PLANNERS will tomorrow (thurs) decide on the fate of The Landmark in Derby – the city’s first ever Build to Rent (BTR) apartment block, which has divided councillors and officers.

Godwin Developments, the developer behind the 201-apartment scheme, says that if planning permission is refused, the city will miss out on millions of pounds of investment and hundreds and jobs and regeneration – at a time when Derby needs it most.

In February 2019, in a close-run vote, Derby City Council’s planning committee gave The Landmark outline planning approval. But final approval for the development is still pending because of a report submitted on behalf of UNESCO which stated potential effects on Derby’s heritage.

Stephen Pratt of Godwin Developments said: “This Thursday, The Landmark will be once again up for discussion with the planning committee – as we seek approval to move forward with this development. 

“Despite all the benefits and a total regeneration investment of £68m, and no significant new evidence against the scheme and a clear economic gain for Derby, we have been urging planners to vote it through as they did previously – so work on site can begin.

“We are a national developer, with our roots firmly in the East Midlands. When we took on the opportunity on Phoenix Street, we consulted widely with local residents, the Derby business community and the local authority. What we found was a city full of ambition and enthusiasm – for regeneration, growth, and a genuine desire to stand as an equal to Derby’s counterparts Nottingham and Leicester. What we heard was frustration from Derby businesspeople and stakeholders that Derby is often overlooked.”

Despite The Landmark receiving outline planning 15 months ago, many felt the scheme controversial because of its height and its proximity to the Silk Mill. 

But others, including Marketing Derby, could see how The Landmark could be the physical indicator for Derby’s future – attracting new business to the city and retaining talent, encouraging professionals and graduates to stay, live and work, added Pratt.

“To address concerns around losing young talent and professionals from the city, we set about to create a development in Phoenix Street, which would set a new standard for city living,” he added.

“We recommended a tall modern building for Derby’s very first Build to Rent (BTR) scheme, comprising 201 high quality apartments that will also make a significant contribution to the city’s housing requirement – more than nine per cent of the council’s housing target.”

Derby city centre has suffered a gradual decline in footfall over recent years – and the city council is currently seeking £23.7m from government to reinvigorate it. 

Derby City Plan recognises that a substantial proportion of its higher earner workforce commutes from outside of the city - meaning that wealth is not retained in Derby. 

“The Landmark will tackle both of these points – by bringing substantial investment and providing desirable accommodation for more than 500 professionals - to not just work in the city but live here,” added Pratt.

“Our scheme is widely supported by the public – during our consultations we found that 80% of residents were in favour the scheme prior to it going to planning committee. There was also support from the Urban Quality Design Department because it is providing attractive landscaping, and public realm improvements in North Riverside – which is an area in need.”

It’s estimated that more than 900 jobs will be created during the construction phase and more than 15 permanent jobs when The Landmark is complete. 

Pratt added: “We know that it is never easy when combining the new with the old – trying to create modern buildings, growing city centres and meeting current housing need - all of this while recognising local historical assets, and the public’s passion for them. 

“UNESCO’s report fails to see that the development lies not only outside the boundary of the heritage site but is also situated beyond its buffer zone.

“The Landmark is a scheme that can get under way by the end of this year. It is what the government called over the weekend a ‘shovel ready’ project that presents Derby with tangible opportunity to create jobs quickly and help the economy recover. 

“We are therefore confident that on Thursday the city of Derby will be able to take another step forward – both in the transformation of its landscape and its future.”

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