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Fire-damaged Derby’s Assembly Rooms to reopen under £24m development plan

Artist's impression of the redeveloped Assembly Rooms in Derby. Photo: Derby City Council
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Derby Council has approved a £24 million redevelopment of the city’s Assembly Rooms. The project will restore the venue, which was destroyed in a fire in 2014, and upgrade and modernise its appearance.

In January this year, the Labour-led council announced plans to replace the Assembly Rooms with a new £44 million venue.

However, the council became conservative-led in May, with the new leaders’ manifesto stating that it would reconsider the plans for the venue. This followed calls from culture sectary Matt Hancock to refurbish the venue rather than replace it with a new building.

Estimated to be fully reopened in Autumn 2020, the revamped Assembly Rooms will have a remodelled entrance and lobby, multifunctional rooms, a refurbished bar area and toilets and upgraded seating.

It will serve as a space for theatre, concerts, corporate events and exhibitions, with more thank 280 events expected to take place each year.

Derby Council’s cabinet approved £24 million funding for the capital project at a meeting on December 12.

The next stage will involve developing designs and securing planning permission.

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, said: “To remain competitive, it’s important that we make our Assembly Rooms a go-to hub that attracts a broad range of acts, and offers something for everyone in the city.

“To do that, we cannot simply repair and reopen; we must enhance the building, and bring it into the 21st century.”

Poulter added: “A refurbished venue will act as a catalyst for regeneration in the area, and give the city something to be proud of. We are not Nottingham or Leicester, we are Derby, and it’s important that we have a venue befitting our city.”

A press release from the council said a number of operators for the venue were being considered, including Derby Live.

Derby Arts and Theatre Association, which represents amateur theatre and music groups in the area, has given a “cautious welcome” to the plans.

DATA chair Steve Dunning said: “Although we would have preferred to see a new theatre and concert hall built, we are pleased now to see firm proposals to not only repair but also enhance the Assembly Rooms.”

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