Comment by Stephen Salloway, Senior Partner with Salloway Commercial Property Consultants and Chairman of Derbyshire Chamber's Property and Development Forum.
The chance to correct a key and longstanding imbalance in Derby's commercial property portfolio is seemingly just around the corner. With the arrival of the Derby Cityscape initiative and plans for a range significant city centre developments, it is crucial that the opportunity is grasped to boost the city's stock of quality office accommodation. There has been no meaningful office development in the central area since the late 1980's - a factor which doesn't fit well with the image of an expanding, go-ahead city. Major projects at Pride Park and The Wyvern have offered a safety valve to help meet the demand, but these schemes have by no means provided a complete and satisfactory answer. It is recognised that the welcome advent of city living - a trend which Derby has not been slow to take advantage of - has seen rising land values that have mitigated against office development schemes. But as attention now firmly focuses on the core needs of the city, we must to find a way to fill the office gap. The demand is there from the private sector, providing sensible solutions can be found to the old chestnut of meeting car parking requirements. The new Riverlights scheme - which has offices as part of the mix - illustrates a way forward and opportunities will surely unfold as a result of local authority and other public sector requirements. But we need to develop a clear office accommodation strategy, one that fully recognises the part which office workers play in adding vibrancy and life to the city centre. If Derby is to realise its full potential, it must have a truly commercial centre and the provision of high calibre office solutions should remain high on the agenda.