Developer comes out fighting against ‘naysayers’ as £46m performance venue takes major step forward

How the venue will look

Derbyshire-based construction firm Bowmer + Kirkland has been awarded by the contract to build the new £46m performance venue in the Becketwell area of Derby city centre.

Construction work has begun on scheme, which will bring forward a 3,500-capacity venue to form phase two of the £200m Becketwell regeneration scheme – the most significant urban regeneration scheme in the city for more than 30 years.

The new performance venue will be built on the site of the former Pennine Hotel, Laurie House offices, multi-storey car park and Pink Coconut nightclub in Colyear Street and Padley House in Becket Street.

It will be owned by Derby City Council and leased to and operated by ASM Global, the venue management and services company, and producer of live events.

Bowmer + Kirkland took over the site on 5 June and practical completion is scheduled for January 2025, just a couple of weeks later than was originally planned when contracts were signed in March 2022.

In February 2022, Peveril Securities, the development arm of the Bowmer + Kirkland Group, were appointed funding and development partners for future phases of the Becketwell scheme.

ASM Global’s UK portfolio includes OVO Arena Wembley, AO Arena (Manchester), Utilita Arena (Newcastle), Bonus Arena (Hull), first direct Arena (Leeds), Olympia London and OVO Hydro (Glasgow).

The venue is set to host over 200 cultural and commercial events each year and attract an additional 250,000 visitors to Derby. It is also expected to create over 200 new local jobs and generate more than £10m GVA per year for the area.

Demolition work for the performance venue began in May 2022 with work starting on site this week. Completion and handover to ASM Global will take place in January 2025.

Phase one of the Becketwell development, which comprises 259 one and two-bedroom Build To Rent (BTR) apartments, is nearing completion alongside Springwell Square which will serve as a multi-purpose space within the development.

Paul Morris, director of St James Securities said: “We are delighted to have concluded this agreement with Bowmer + Kirkland, a local company with a nationwide track record of working on award-winning projects for an extensive portfolio of developers, public sector clients and blue-chip companies across a broad range of sectors.

“In a very difficult inflationary climate where materials and labour costs have increased substantially, St James Securities has worked extremely hard with B+K through the design development and tendering stage to ensure the project would be delivered well within the fixed price contract with Derby City Council.

“I won’t pretend it’s been an easy process to get to this stage; however, I am very proud of the entire professional team involved in this project who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we’ve worked around the many challenges we faced along the way.

“There have been a few naysayers who have sought to publicly criticise us and suggest we would either throw the towel in or return to the Council seeking more money.

“This is simply not how we operate and once we agree a price, as we did with Derby City Council, then we stand by it. We have a wealth of experience in delivering complex, award-winning regeneration schemes and having the financial backing of Peveril Securities has further strengthened our ability to take on these challenges and win.

“The skill set of a dedicated and experienced team, such as the one we have pulled together for the performance venue, allows us to work in a way that central government or local authorities are not able. This is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work in partnership to deliver complex schemes at a fixed price with the private sector absorbing all the development and construction risks which in this project have been substantial.”

Christian Parnell, Bowmer + Kirkland Regional director, added: “We are absolutely delighted to have been appointed to build Derby’s exciting new entertainment and events venue. 2023 marks Bowmer + Kirkland’s first 100 years and it is fitting that we are beginning work on a major scheme which will bring life back to a once vibrant and prominent area of the city.

“We are looking forward to working with St James Securities, Derby City Council and ASM Global to deliver this landmark venue for the people of Derby and Derbyshire.”