Plans for the new 3,500-capacity Becketwell Arena in Derby have been approved, following a meeting of the Derby City Council planning committee, yesterday, 7 October.

The £45m venue will be owned by Derby City Council and managed by ASM Global – the venue management giant formed by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG.

The plans were submitted by Leeds-based developers St James Securities, which is building out the wider £200m Becketwell regeneration scheme and will deliver the venue as part of phase two of the scheme.

Along with the main auditorium that will have a capacity of 3,500, the venue will offer a range of event configurations including a fully seated layout for up to 2,100.

The approval comes as Derby was one of eight cities longlisted for the UK City of Culture 2025.

Despite the approval, planning committee chairman and Labour councillor Shiraz Khan criticised the plans: “This is a flagship venue for the city, and we can’t have it looking like an office block on the back. What welcomes everybody is this grey building that isn’t appealing.”

Fellow Labour councillor Joanna West also criticised the design, saying, “It’s not a great design, it’s quite dull. I was hoping for a lot better, we need to be more ambitious.”

St James Securities development director Paul Morris said, “To receive consent from the planning committee highlights the significance of bringing a venue of this kind to Derby and will be a real game-changer for the city.

“The confidence shown in Derby by world-leading operator ASM Global will provide the impetus to attract further investment to the city.

“This decision also strengthens the link between culture and regeneration and will play a key role in Derby’s bid for City of Culture 2025.

“These are exciting times for Derby. We look forward to working alongside Derby City Council and our other private sector partners to deliver a scheme that will revitalise a long-neglected area of the city and contribute to improving the overall vibrancy and attraction of the city centre.”