If the £40,000 pilot project is successful, it will be rolled out across the housebuilder’s city-wide development portfolio.
Linked with Cornwall’s eco-focused Eden Project, Down to Earth Derby is the Community Interest Company (CIC) behind the city’s widely-acclaimed Electric Daisy attraction. By connecting the urban community with nature-based activities and a diverse events programme, it has become a nationally recognised symbol of the ambitious regeneration and revitalisation of the burgeoning East Midlands city.
Once the designs for the community garden at Nightingale Quarter have been finalised, the work to transform the outdoor space into a magnet for nature, wildlife and people will commence. The interactive garden and allotment space is expected to be unveiled during late spring 2024.
James Dickens, Managing Director of Wavensmere Homes, said: “When I first visited Electric Daisy last year, I was inspired by the way local people of all ages are brought together throughout the week to enjoy and learn about the power of nature. As Derby’s most active residential developer, I could see the opportunity to create something very special and spread the infectious ethos of Down to Earth Derby to our developments.
“What we will be delivering at Nightingale Quarter in the coming months isn’t part of a planning obligation. I am very proud and excited that this pilot project will be a living test bed that could ignite a national appetite for funded community gardens.”
Nightingale Quarter has brought about the restoration and redevelopment of the Derby Royal Infirmary, including the two iconic pepper pot buildings – built in 1894. Pepper Pot South will be transformed into a residents’ gym and community meeting room, once the 925 new houses and apartments complete in 2025.
Pepper Pot North accommodates The Fulton Partnership’s £1mn Pepperpot restaurant, which is opening on 14th February. Construction is also well underway for MacArthur House, which will contain 118 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Situated at the front of the development, overlooking London Road, construction work on a final residential building is due to commence later this year.
Jamie Quince-Starkey, Founder of Down to Earth CIC, said: “My mum worked at the Royal Derby Infirmary, so to have the opportunity to create a community garden at the Nightingale Quarter development fills me with pride.
“James and the Wavensmere team understand the importance of purposeful living and the wellness benefits of inspiring people to be active and engaged with nature and gardening. Regular allotment meet-ups can be the catalyst to bringing a new community together, while also having a transformative impact on mental health.
“With biodiversity net gain becoming a planning obligation for all future developments, we are already looking into impact reporting that could measure the tangible benefits of the Nightingale Quarter community garden, and hopefully many more to come.”
Down to Earth Derby sees the key to success of this pilot project being regular facilitated sessions, events for all ages, and garden maintenance throughout the year. The facilitated sessions will be designed to empower residents to actively participate in the care and maintenance of the space, promoting a sense of shared responsibility. By working alongside residents, the organisation will aim to instil a sense of ownership – reducing the need for paid upkeep – while creating a sustainable and community-designed outdoor sanctuary.
A food forest, woodland zone, clean composting area, raised planting beds, bug hotels and bird house making are amongst the detailed plans for the Nightingale Quarter community garden.
Florence Nightingale lived in Derby for three years and was instrumental in designing the Royal Infirmary hospital, which received the Royal Stamp of Approval when it was opened by Queen Victoria in 1894. An original statue of Queen Victoria has been preserved and restored by Wavensmere Homes to ensure her legacy stands strong.
Wavensmere Homes has submitted plans for the 11.5-acre (4.96Ha) historic Friar Gate Goods Yard elsewhere in central Derby, which could be transformed into 276 houses and apartments, and over 110,000sq ft of commercial space. The firm has also submitted planning with Wilson Bowden Developments for 186 apartments, occupying one of the final plots of development land within Derby’s newly revitalised Cathedral Quarter.
In late 2023, Wavensmere Homes received the green light from Amber Valley Borough Council for its revised plans for the £22m redevelopment of Milford Mills, which overlooks the River Derwent, located between Belper and Duffield in north Derbyshire. 69 new homes will now be delivered on the historic site, which is within the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wavensmere Homes’ additional major urban regeneration schemes are located across central England. The Birmingham-headquartered housebuilder has around 3,500 new homes either under construction or in planning.