Creative plan for Derby City Centre
Derby’s Economic Recovery Task Force has put forward ambitious plans which target vacant retail units in St James’s Street, Market Place and Iron Gate.
The project aims to encourage makers, artists, designers and those in creative digital businesses to cluster along the route, linking with the development of the new £17m Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, which forms part of Bondholder Derby Museums portfolio.
Councillor Matthew Holmes, Deputy Leader of Bondholder Derby City Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “This will help to reinvigorate the city centre and create a cultural destination for tourists and local communities. St James’s Street and the Museum of Making will provide the bookends for the scheme and the route, signalled though public art installations, will run through the spine of Cathedral Quarter.”
The idea follows the success of similar initiatives in Margate and Hull and Derby City Council has already engaged the consultants behind the Hull project, Creative Space Management, with plans to appoint a city centre manager to help drive the scheme forward.
The project will work with landlords of empty shops to attract tenants from its target sectors by offering incentives such as small grants to support fit-out, rates mitigation and a pool of demand for space.
Councillor Holmes continued: “We are working hard to meet head-on the growing issue of vacancy rates and this exciting initiative offers an opportunity to create an identity that is distinctly Derby by linking to the city’s heritage as a place of innovation where things are made.
“The project will focus on attracting creative businesses onto the high street by providing opportunities for makers and artists, offering new workspaces and studios for the wider creative and digital industries and creating new jobs, enterprises and city living within empty or under-used buildings. Where appropriate, upper floor space will also be converted into lettable units for live-work or flexible workspace."
The Council also plans to improve the street scene by illuminating buildings, commissioning public art and creating green ‘parklets’.
The authority has secured an initial £350,000 through a business rates pilot scheme and now plans to explore additional sources of funding with organisations such as Bondholder D2N2 the Local Enterprise Partnership and Arts Council England.
The project team will work closely with Bondholder the University of Derby to engage graduates in the project. Councillor Holmes added: “There is a strong pipeline of new talent emerging into the city, with over 500 students graduating each year from the University of Derby’s School of Arts. By working in close partnership with the university, this project will improve graduate retention by creating new space for emerging talent.”