Cedar Group founder Grahame Whateley has acquired the eight-acre site of Derby’s former DRI hospital through a new venture called Nightingale Derbyshire.

DRI hospital sketch

Developer First Urban had outline planning approval to build up to 500 homes on the site, which has been vacate since 2015, but has passed on an agreement to acquire the site from the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.

The two owners have now agreed an off-market sale to Nightingale Derbyshire, a new venture launched for the acquisition by Whateley, who is estimated to have personal wealth in excess of £50m. Whateley, aged 67, is chairman of the Halesowen-based Cedar Group, a property investment firm he set up more than 40 years ago, and beneficiary of several trusts with net assets of around £45m. In 2005 he was a co-founder of Local Shopping REIT and was non-executive chairman up until October 2014.

James Dickens, a co-director in Nightingale Derbyshire alongside Whateley, said the group were considered several options for the scheme. “We’ve worked up a couple of hypothetical schemes and we’re looking forward to discussing them with Derby City Council’s planning department and want to build something special,” he added.

A University Hospitals of Derby and Burton spokesperson said: “The Trust agreed a deal to sell the land around 2 years ago to developers First Urban. We have since been maintaining the site as part of our agreement with them, whilst outline planning permission was sought. More recently, another developer emerged with the intention of bringing the redevelopment of the site forward and, with the agreement of First Urban, the Trust has now sold the site directly to Nightingale Derbyshire.

“This transaction has now taken place and, as a result, all ownership, responsibility and control of the site has now passed over to the new owners. We wish the project well and look forward to a development that can add to the community.”

The site was home to the Derbyshire General Infirmary, which later became the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary ahead of its closure in 2015.