Sir Tim Smit officially opens the Nightingale Quarter community garden

Sir Tim Smit Opens Nightingale Quarter Community Garden in Derby

Sir Tim Smit officially opens the Nightingale Quarter community garden

Sustainability champion and co-founder of Cornwall’s Eden Project – Sir Tim Smit – has launched the community garden at the £175m Nightingale Quarter in Derby city centre. The £40,000 pilot project is a collaboration between Wavensmere Homes and Down to Earth Derby, which will be rolled out across the housebuilder’s city-wide development portfolio.

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.

This ethos has been in play for the past six months, while an expansive community garden has been planned, landscaped and planted by residents living at the 18.5-acre redevelopment of the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, working together with Down to Earth’s team. The final phases of the 925 houses and apartments are under construction, with over 1,000 residents already living at Nightingale Quarter. Now also a magnet for nature and wildlife, the interactive garden and allotment space is being enjoyed and maintained by locals of all ages, including groups of school children from nearby St James’ C of E Junior School.

The nature-based regeneration that’s been achieved across Derby during the past 12 months shows the potential, together with the public support and appetite for more vibrant urban spaces. Down to Earth launched Electric Daisy 12 months ago and has received fantastic support from local people, businesses and organisations. The team has also undertaken a number of projects to introduce interactive nature beds and green spaces to inner city schools. And now this first collaboration with a housebuilder has opened.

Derby is becoming an outstanding symbol of regeneration, famous across Europe.  As the community garden was not a planning obligation, we are very grateful to Wavensmere Homes for the investment, commitment and shared vision. Collaborative nature projects like this bring people together to learn about flora and fauna, and the joy that comes with growing seasonal fruit and vegetables.  I am encouraging all those involved to see that the success of this pilot may ignite a national appetite for funded community gardens.

Sir Tim Smit, mentor to Down to Earth Derby

Sir Tim Smit, mentor to Down to Earth Derby

Wavensmere Homes is Derby’s most active housebuilder, with 1,400 homes newly completed, under construction, or in planning. The former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary was derelict for a decade before the Birmingham-headquartered regeneration specialist acquired the site and commenced construction in 2019. Alongside the 125 houses, 800 apartments, co-working space, running track, and over six-acres of open space, Nightingale Quarter has brought about the restoration and redevelopment of the former hospital’s two iconic pepper pot buildings – built in 1894. Pepper Pot South is being transformed into a residents’ gym and community meeting room, while the other accommodates The Fulton Partnership’s highly acclaimed gastro-style Pepperpot restaurant.

As with Electric Daisy, people of all ages are being brought together at Nightingale Quarter to enjoy and learn about the power of nature. It’s inspiring to work with the Down to Earth team and see how our residents and others from the local community are becoming impassioned with green-finger prowess. We are grateful to Sir Tim for officially opening this pioneering garden, which will lead to further projects.

James Dickens, Managing Director of Wavensmere Homes

My mum worked at the Royal Derbyshire Infirmary, so to have the opportunity to create this special outdoor space at the Nightingale Quarter development has filled 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. This community garden has become a living test-bed, demonstrating how regular allotment meet-ups can be the catalyst to bringing a new community together, while also having a transformative impact on mental health.

Jamie Quince-Starkey, Founder of Down to Earth CIC

A food forest, woodland zone, clean composting area, raised planting beds, bug hotels and bird houses, are amongst the features of the Nightingale Quarter community garden. Down to Earth’s programme of facilitated sessions and events for all ages are promoting a sense of shared responsibility and reducing the need for paid upkeep, while maintaining a sustainable and community-designed outdoor sanctuary.

Wavensmere Homes has major additional urban regeneration sites located across middle England and Suffolk. The Birmingham-headquartered housebuilder has around 3,500 new homes either under construction or in planning.

Nightingale Quarter’s marketing suite and two show homes are open from 10am – 5pm Monday through to Saturday, accessed off 128 London Road, Derby DE1 2QQ. For further information, or to book an in-person, or virtual appointment, call 01332 321 255, or email

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