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Jobs boost for Derby as Morrisons commits to new store in the city


10 August 2011

There’s good news on the jobs front for the city after Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced that one of the UK’s most successful supermarket operators,  Morrisons has been selected to develop the first phase of a new mixed use scheme planned for the old Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site on London Road.

Selling the site will release much-needed capital for investment in local healthcare, including a state-of-the art school of nursing to be built next to the Royal Derby Hospital.

Morrisons has offered to purchase a 2.2 hectare site on the unused sections of land, closest to the City Centre, on the junction of London Road and Bradshaw Way, which has been named the Nightingale Quarter. The site was declared surplus following the relocation of major acute services to the new Royal Derby Hospital in 2009. It is considered to be a significant gateway site for the city and a key regeneration project, alongside Castleward to the east.

This followed an intensive marketing exercise by the Trust and its advisers GVA and local agents Rigby & Co., which generated keen interest from all the leading supermarket operators

The 20 – acre Nightingale Quarter comprises a major mixed-use development, incorporating 60,000 sq ft of retail space, together with around 450 homes. There is also scope for other commercial uses, including offices and a hotel.

Another part of the site is also being considered by Derby City Council as a location for its proposed new 50-metre indoor swimming pool – part of the City’s £50-million leisure strategy. The Trust and its advisors are currently working closely with the council to explore ways in which surplus energy from the commercial parts of the development could be harnessed to heat the swimming pool.

This announcement by the Trust follows the recent news of 1,400 job losses at Bombardier as a result of the Government’s decision to award the £1.1bn Thames Link contract to Siemens, and Barclaycard’s recent announcement that 650 jobs are set to be lost as it closes the EGG building on Pride Park.

The supermarket project will create hundreds of new construction jobs when work commences, subject to the planning process.  Morrisons will also be recruiting over 300 full and part time posts once the supermarket opens, which could be by the end of 2012, if the planning process goes smoothly.

This development will ensure that the planned regeneration of the city centre remains on track despite the current economic climate.

“The Choice of Morrisons was a strategic one” explains Lee Outhwaite, Director of Finance & Information at the Hospital. “Unlike other supermarket operators Morrisons is chiefly a grocery business and concentrates on selling food and will therefore complement the established retailers elsewhere in the City, including the Cathedral Quarter.

“At the moment, there is no equivalent food outlet in the City centre. This new store has been planned to both serve the planned new communities in the Nightingale Quarter and Castleward, and existing families who will no longer need to drive across the city for their weekly shop” he added “It is very important to the Trust as the proceeds from the sale will finance the redevelopment of the London Road Community Hospital and the new School of Nursing on the Royal Derby Hospital site.

Commenting on the deal with Morrisons, David Grose, Operations Director of development consultants Mace Limited, said:

“This is fantastic news for Derby! Not only will it bring new jobs to the City; it will act as a major catalyst for regeneration on the eastern fringes of Derby and fund capital improvement in healthcare provision for the local population.

“At a time when many parts of the public sector are suffering from funding reductions, it is good to see Derby bucking the trend once again by investing in its future.

The proposal made by Morrisons will also ensure that this key site on a major route into Derby does not become derelict when the last hospital departments move out later this year.”

The Nightingale Quarter planning application was submitted last November and the Trust expects its redevelopment master plan to be approved at the planning committee meeting on 1 September.

 James Brook, development executive at Morrisons, added: “This is a great opportunity for Morrisons as we grow from national to nationwide. We are extremely keen to open more stores in the region. We operate at the heart of many communities and we are looking forward to helping to regenerate this site by bringing our range of fresh food, excellent service and great value to the City of Derby. Our professional team is already working with Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a new store that complements the wider scheme on the Nightingale Quarter as well as the city centre. We are confident that this mixed-use scheme will be a real asset to the local community.”

Joint agents for the scheme are GVA Grimley and Rigby & Co.