Derby City Council has officially launched its plans for attracting the development of 2,200 new homes in the city centre by 2028.
More than 50 developers and agents attended the event to hear about the opportunities available under the Housing Zone status awarded to the city centre by the Homes and Community Agency (HCA).
Key sites earmarked for residential properties within the Housing Zone are Castleward – where the first 164 of 800 homes are already under construction; the former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site and the Friar Gate Goods Yard.
Derby City Council Deputy Leader Cllr Martin Rawson explained that the Council was keen to work with developers to deliver residential housing schemes in the Housing Zone.
Further opportunities are also available to convert former commercial property premises in the city centre into residential housing, supported by loans and, in some cases grants, through the City Council’s £6.5 million City Living Fund.
Derby City Council Deputy Leader Cllr Martin Rawson opened the event by highlighting the importance of city living as part of the local authority’s overall regeneration plans and emerging Masterplan.
“City living is an important part of our masterplan for the city centre and people are increasingly choosing this as a housing and lifestyle choice which is vital to support the surrounding retail, leisure and cultural offer of the city centre.
“We are already seeing a buoyant housing market in the city centre and the Housing Zone status will create a lot of opportunities for developers with the potential for funding to be levered in to provide loans and, hopefully, grants to kick start development.”
HCA Executive Director Karl Tupling continued that the Derby Housing Zone was part of the Government ambition to build one billion new homes across the UK with a major focus on increased home ownership and starter homes.
He explained that the HCA was committed to accelerating the housing supply through such tools as reforming the planning system, releasing public sector owned land and supporting the plans of smaller developers for sites of between 20 and 40 new homes.
“It is not just about the numbers of new homes that need to be built it is about the quality and diversity to ensure the right product is in the right place to encourage people into these new housing areas. Housing zones will play an important part to achieve that ambition.”
“There are evidently many opportunities in Derby and we are delighted that we are able to put in the resources to start the work of the Housing Zone.”
Ben Glover from Savills outlined the findings of a report into residential development opportunities within the city centre Housing Zone, commissioned by Derby City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The market analysis on how Derby city centre currently performs and how the Derby Housing Zone can support the creation of a sustainable and desirable new housing offer revealed that there was a gap in the market for properties prices at between £140,000 and £170,000.
He explained that the current average market value for flats and apartments in the city centre was £114,000 and £131,000 for houses – the lowest in the East Midlands.
However the market was increasing with current sales rates ranging from £180 per square foot to £220 per sq ft.
He commented: “We are seeing a change is the socio economic status of people living in the city centre but more work needs to be done to further change the perception of city centre living.”
“Average salaries in Derby are 10 per cent higher than the rest of the East Midlands and average graduate salaries are also greater in the city than the rest of the region.”
“There is therefore definite capacity for people to live in the city centre and estate agents report that demand is positive with new homes selling well so the city council’s goals are achievable.”
He highlighted that, in Castleward – a key site in the Housing Zone – most of the 164 first phase built by Compendium Living had been sold with a programme of new public realm completed between the city and the station.
“This is a real opportunity for place making with quality public realm, schools, shops and businesses developed alongside the community of 800 homes – attracting a wider demographic.”
“There are indications that the former DRI site will have a residential housing focus rather than retail with the potential for starter, family and homes for older people and there is also scope for the Friar Gate Goods Yard site to be a popular residential community.”
“There is also increased activity in the city centre with an increase in student accommodation and conversion of offices to residential city living properties.”
One of the developments supported by the City Living Fund is Weavers Point by Radleigh Homes – a new-build development of 35 two-bedroom apartments in Lodge Lane on a previously vacant brownfield site close to the Derby inner city ring road.
Radleigh Homes Joint Managing Director Tom Finnegan added: “The creation of the Derby City Living Fund has bred confidence amongst developers and occupiers alike – resulting in a number of both new build and refurbishment schemes which are helping to create a new city centre market.”
“We have had excellent support from the city council and applying and securing funding through the Council’s City Living Fund was a simple and quick process.”
Greg Jennings, Head of Regeneration Projects at Derby City Council told the audience that some key city centre residential property sites would be coming to market in the near future.
“Housing is part of the bigger picture and we are committed to working alongside the private sector to take a holistic approach and ensure that there is a choice of homes alongside a vibrant retail, leisure and cultural offer within a well-connected city.”