You’ve only got to walk through Derby’s Cathedral Quarter to see how much it has changed in the last year.

There’s a buzz in the air, new businesses are setting up and long-established retailers are enjoying the hustle of new customers.

The urban hub of clothes shops and cafes, gift shops and bars make up Sadler Gate, Derby’s oldest street in the Cathedral Quarter. But does this resurgence of the traditional high street spell out a different kind of ‘normal’ as it continues to evolve its offering?

Brad Worley, BID Manager for Cathedral Quarter, says establishing the area as destination is how to increase footfall, and organising events to attract visitors to the city are key focuses of Derby’s Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID).

‘We work hard to promote the area’s great independent retailers, beauty salons, professional services, and award-winning restaurants, coffee shops and pubs nestled on streets that have been central to Derby for centuries,’ he explains.

‘Delivering projects that encourage visitors to Derby and breathe new life into the city centre is at the forefront of everything we do.

‘The new Market Hall is an extremely exciting project and further investment in the city’s leisure and night-time economy, including the construction of the Beckwell Performance Venue, is just what we need to see.’

The success of the work carried out by the BID saw the Cathedral Quarter crowned National BID of the Year by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) as well as the coveted title of ‘best city centre location’ in the Great British High Street Awards in previous years.

‘We’ve come such a long way,’ Brad adds. ‘We’ve built a strong sense of community, and by working together have forged great relationships with local businesses and partners. Working to transform our city for the benefit of everyone who lives or visits here is what drives us forward.

‘We know UK high streets have changed but Derby’s independent businesses have continued to flourish. Shoppers and visitors have remained loyal to the Cathedral Quarter, but our work is more valuable than ever.’

Derby’s Cathedral Quarter was developed as a BID in 2008, after businesses voted in favour of a plan to support businesses and brand the area. They were facing challenges like the opening of Derby’s first large shopping centre and the relocation of stores like Debenhams and Marks and Spencer.

Great British Life: The four-strong BID Rangers - Nikki, Ian, Jon and ScottThe four-strong BID Rangers - Nikki, Ian, Jon and Scott (Image: Cathedral Quarter BID)

Today, Derby’s Cathedral Quarter has established itself as a destination and one of its successful projects are its Rangers. The four-strong team, in the Cathedral Quarter and the St Peters Quarter, walk ten miles a day and spend thousands of hours a year patrolling the streets.

Scott Harris, Jon McKenzie, Nikki Matthews and Ian Rollett are the faces behind the uniform and work alongside businesses and partners such as the Police, Public Protection Officers, Streetpride and the Rehousing Engagement Support Team (REST) team, amongst others.

Their role is three-fold: support businesses, welcome visitors, and work with city partners and agencies acting as a support and referral resource.

One of the Rangers, Scott Harris, has just celebrated ten years’ service. He joined the BIDs at just 19 and has built a strong, loyal relationship with businesses.

‘I’m proud to achieve my ten-year service and work alongside other long serving Rangers,’ says Scott. ‘We’ve forged a real rapport with the businesses we serve.’

The Cathedral Quarter Rangers are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the area. They support the businesses that bring these streets to life with their vibrant combination of shops, classy bars on Friar Gate, and popular eateries.

Some businesses, including pubs like the Old Bell, have operated for centuries, yet there have been significant changes on Sadler Gate.

Prior to the street’s pedestrianisation in the early 1970s it was crowded and heavy with traffic. Today, a wealth of shops line the streets of the Cathedral Quarter and investors clearly see an opportunity. It's an indicator of an unexpected but long-hoped-for resurgence of one of Derby's most beloved streets.

A recent addition is the Derby Heritage Centre. As well as offering prints, books and local gifts, it also has 100% locally sourced groceries, wonderful offerings from local creatives, as well as the Derby Pyclet Parlour on the first floor.

The centre is the first project launched by Derby Uncovered CIC, a community interest company, dedicated to revitalising city-centre properties in Derby. It showcases wonderful aspects of Derbyshire’s history as well as offering advice on what’s on and where to go.

With various events, walks and talks soon to be announced, it’s a location that adds another element to a thousand-year-old street on the rise.

‘Derby and Derbyshire have a lot to be proud of, and we aim to celebrate and showcase it all, says David Turner, managing director of Derby Uncovered CIC.

‘Whether it's wonderful heritage, local food and drink producers or wonderful artists and artisans, our centre is Derby and Derbyshire through and through. We hope it will also be a place to pop by for a natter and a bit of company.’

Other independents working hard to keep Sadler Gate busy is Dave Hill at BPM Records, Derby’s independent record shop in Old Blacksmith’s Yard, Mr Shaw, a men’s casual clothing brand and Tubo, an independent gift shop run by married couple, Danny and Kay Samson.

Great British Life: Mr Shaw's House is one of many passionate independents proud to be part of the local business community Mr Shaw's House is one of many passionate independents proud to be part of the local business community (Image: Nielsen McAllister)

Dave Hill has served the city for more than 35 years and still going strong.

‘Derby’s been kind to me,’ he says.’ I’ve moved shops a couple of times when different opportunities came up, but my customers have always been loyal and followed me around.

‘People come from as far afield as Sheffield and Nottingham to buy my vinyl. It’s wonderful to get that support. I’m enormously grateful to the people of Derby too.’

‘The revival of Sadler Gate is attributed to the passion and dedication of the independent businesses along the street – some of whom have been there for years,’ adds Karl Shaw.

‘We’re cultivating a vibrant community, rich with character and offering. Our Love Sadler Gate group are highlighting the charm of our historic street with fantastic events, which will only get better.’

Martin Langsdale, chair of the Cathedral Quarter BID, is proud of the Cathedral Quarter district.

‘The influx of new, independent businesses is part of the reason the Cathedral Quarter is on the up,’ he believes. ‘But there are other ways to put this area back on the map – and that’s working on initiatives, projects, and events to increase footfall.

‘The introduction of our successful Loyalty scheme, the LoyalFree app, also supports local businesses. It allows shoppers to unlock discounts and deals from shops, salons, and hospitality businesses across the BID area.’

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