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Derby Property Summit - June 2016

Derby Property Summit - June 2016
Just like the previous three years, this annual event was held at the iPro Stadium and, again like previous years, was well attended with over 300 people present, including standing room for about twenty people at the back. Last year there was a lot of talk about student accommodation and so this year there was even more about student accommodation, plus plenty more about graduate retention accommodation. As you may be aware, Cathedral Court has had its scaffolding removed and this massive building stands very proud in front of the Queen's Baths. The University has signed a 30 year lease with Prosperity Capital and from the way their CEO was talking, this won’t be the last deal they do with the UoD. More of this later. The next student accommodation for 250 en-suite bedrooms is about to start with a second Copper building on Agard Street alongside the Derby Law School. Prosperity Capital are in talks with the Derby City Council about two more large sites where they will be building similar blocks for the graduate market. When you add this development to another 150 student en-suite building going through planning at the moment to go alongside the second Copper building on Agard Street, you can clearly see that external investment in modern accommodation is increasing.

Infinity Park just off Wilmore Road will eventually consist of 100 acres of industrial units and was described a number of times. This RR, JCB, DCC, University of Derby/Aston/Cranfield hi-tec site has its first building up ready for business. With direct links to the A50/M1 and proximity to RR this will create a big draw for accommodation around the Chellaston/Sinfin area and in the City centre for the younger workforce.

As most people know, the old DRI site totalling 23 acres is now clear and most of the bricks have been pulverised ready for the construction of between 400 and 450 homes. This, together with 155 flats in the converted St Peter’s House offices on Gower Street, means there will be an additional 600 flats coming on to the market over the next two years.

Over 100 Connect offices have been launched since the last summit and 60% are already occupied. They are one of the many reasons for the growing demand for professional flats and studios with many graduates staying on after obtaining their degrees. Certainly the old focus of “suits on the streets” has been taken over by “it’s about people and accommodation”.

The Derby City Council had an important spot and the Strategic Director Christine Durrant talked a lot about the City Masterplan, which includes:
  • The new performance venue to take the place of the now defunct Assembly Rooms will now be built on the market square. There was a possibility for this building to be built in Duckworth Square but this is not to be. This new venue is being considered as a major game-changer for the city to increase the economic viability of the city and improve footfall to the Cathedral Quarter
  • The Silk Mill has been given £6 million of funding to develop its Industrial Heritage for the new Museum of Making, which will have strong links to schools, Derby UTC, the University and local industry.
  • Now that Becketwell/Duckworth Square will not have the Performance Venue, tenders are being invited for the whole site to include housing, retail, health or leisure bids.
  • The Connect scheme of 100 offices will continue to expand across the City for “start-ups” and growing companies.
  • Castleward will continue to grow, as the DRI site expands linking the City to the station and Pride Park.

The penultimate speaker was Prosperity Capital, owners of the 350 bed en-suite building Cathedral Court in front of the Queens Baths. They discovered Derby three years ago and now cannot get enough of the City, as they see so much potential. This increased interest involves looking into two sites for graduates in the City mentioned previously.

Finally there was a Question and Answer session where some of the main points of interest were:
  • Future technological developments in the City will involve drones and driverless vehicles. The example given was when Amazon Prime delivery systems were implemented in Chicago, completely new office storage requirements were required.
  • HS2 will require a completely new set of transport systems and logistical infrastructures, which will impact heavily on the RTC on London Road and the City in general.
  • It is crucial to retain more of the University Graduates to supply engineers for the 2030/2040.
  • London based investors are beginning to discover Derby and the trickle of interest will grow.
  • The jump in ranking of the University of Derby is helping push the interest in Derby.
  • The present flavour of the month of developing offices into accommodation will eventually mean that more offices will have to be developed and sites found, although there is very little appetite at the moment.
  • Connectivity to London is crucial and the constant reduction of times is helping this.
  • The loss of D2N2 not being allowed by the local politicians to devolve into a Combined Authority will mean a loss of Government funding of some £2 billion for strategic investment into the City. This will have a knock on effect of the City only being able to bid for small projects.

A most interesting couple of hours, during which we heard about many items will have some profound impact on student, graduate and professional accommodation in the city. We all need to take heed of the tectonic shifts taking place in our city right underneath our feet. Do give us a call if you'd like a conversation about making the most of your Derby property. 

William Barron - Blue i Properties - June 25th 2016
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