Following reports that the planned redevelopment of the city’s Assembly Rooms had become financially prohibitive for Derby City Council (DCC) to proceed with, I wrote to my ministerial colleague supporting the reallocation of the Government’s £20 million Levelling Up Funding award. My letter stressed the importance of keeping this money in Derby and that the proposed benefits of the Assemble scheme could be achieved through the refurbishment of the neighbouring Theatre and Guildhall – which had been proposed by DCC as an alternative project.
Jacob Young MP has now confirmed in his reply that on the 24th of October, officials in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUC) notified DCC that their Project Adjustment Request had been approved. Furthermore, Government officials will remain in contact with DCC to assist in the delivery of the project.
It was vital that this investment was not lost, and I am so pleased that my colleague the Minister for Levelling Up has approved the reallocation of these funds. The Levelling Up Fund was specifically designed to support cities like Derby that have outstanding regeneration work and after almost five years of closure, the Theatre and Guildhall will now benefit from a program of refurbishment.
It is my understanding that this new project is planned to provide the same creative and economic opportunities to our cultural sector here in Derby that the Assemble project would have unlocked. However, it is still imperative that DCC find an alternative and appropriate solution to the Assembly Rooms site which has been vacant for almost a decade. The reallocation of resources cannot be an excuse used to fail to facilitate meaningful investment in the Assembly Rooms which were a key part of the Council’s Derby’s City Centre Masterplan 2030.
I intend to continue discussions with the Minister for Levelling Up on this topic to ensure DLUC provides as much support as it can in assisting DCC with delivering this project. Furthermore, the Minister has committed to visiting Derby when work progresses on the amended project.