The Great Places Commission visited Nottingham and Derby in the East Midlands in July to explore the role of housing-led regeneration and anchor organisations in creating great places to live.

Nottingham and Derby are home to world-class universities and large private sector employers, but like many places they also face challenges of inequality and achieving economic growth that benefits all residents.

The Commission was particularly keen to explore how housing-led regeneration schemes can prompt larger-scale positive change in communities, and how major institutions and employers are using their skills, resources and expertise to benefit local people and places.

You can find out more about the Commission’s visit to Nottingham and Derby in the video below, or read on for more details of the projects we visited and the people we met – and the lessons the Commission took away from the visit.

Video of the Great Places Commission visit to Nottingham and Derby

Housing-led regeneration – Lenton Green and Radford Mill

The Commissioners began their visit in Lenton, where a large-scale regeneration project completed earlier in 2018, led by Nottingham City Homes and Nottingham City Council.

The Lenton area is popular with students living in private rented accommodation, in particular since the University of Nottingham opened its Jubilee Campus in 1999, and a large proportion of single people and couples living across five 1960s tower blocks on an estate in the centre of Lenton.

The regeneration programme sought to create a more balanced and sustainable community by replacing the tower blocks with 145 homes for social rent and 57 apartments for older people.

The residents the Commissioners spoke to were positive about the change, and particularly about the green spaces, quality and affordability of their new homes.

The Lenton Green development

The Commission also visited Radford, north of Lenton, where Nottingham Community Housing Association is regenerating the site of a 150-year-old former mill, again with a view to creating a more balanced and sustainable community and addressing the lack of affordable family homes in the area. The project is being carried out in partnership with Nottingham City Council, which is providing land, and Homes England, which is providing grant funding. Radford Mill is an example of how partnership such as this can deliver successful regeneration schemes in lower value markets, where the cost/value challenge is often an obstacle.

Over the course of their visit, the Commissioners heard how people value local relationships and a sense of community and belonging, and that factors such as the quality, diversity and affordability of the housing offer, along with good quality services and green spaces, play a crucial role in creating great places to live.

We also saw how housing-led regeneration schemes such as Lenton Green and Radford can serve as a catalyst for a wider vision for an area, providing they are carried out in close partnership with the local community, and with bold leadership from a strategic local authority.

Anchor institutions – universities and private sector employers

Dr Paula Black, Director of Nottingham Trent University’s Civic Exchange, talked to the Commission about how universities can and are using their resources, knowledge and networks to deliver positive changes in a place.

The Civic Exchange brings together university expertise with partners committed to addressing the needs of local communities. It is currently carrying out a piece of work with the Royal Society of Arts to explore the lived experiences of people who are ‘just about managing’ in Nottingham, focusing on practical measures that can be applied locally.

The Commission also heard from major private sector employers, including Toyota, and representatives of Derby’s Renaissance Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and Marketing Derby, who talked about the need for local employers to invest in skills development and young people, and the challenges of attracting and retaining talent in the city.

Finally, the Commissioners found out about the Working Assets Programme, an initiative between Toyota and the Derbyshire YMCA to equip young people with skills and work experience.

Find out more

Read our detailed report on the Great Places Commission visit to the East Midlands.

To find out more about our visit to Nottingham and Derby or about the Great Places programme, get in touch at

You can also follow the Commission's progress on Twitter via #GreatPlacesCommission.