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

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 [1].

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 [2] 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 [3] 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.”