Developer Urban Catalyst is to expand its portfolio to include rural development
The firm has set up new arm Rural Catalyst to examine potential development areas, particularly brownfield sites, to see if they can be used to aid rural communities.

Chief executive Ken Dytor said: "Brownfield sites are always thought of in urban terms. But there are a lot of rural brownfield sites, such as disused concrete works, which could be developed to put something back into the community."

Dytor said Rural Catalyst was still in embryo, but added that he had been looking at potential sites for rural schemes. He said: "We are looking for funding partners and management."

The news of the creation of Rural Catalyst comes in the same week the developer closed two regeneration deals with Barking and Derby councils.

Terms have been agreed with Barking and Dagenham council in east London for a £45m mixed-use development of Barking town square. The project includes more than 30,660 m2 of residential space, offices, educational, health and retail facilities, and a public space. A library will also be renovated.

Derby council has given Urban Catalyst three months to come up with a plan to redevelop the Roundhouse, built by the North Midland Rail Company in 1839, before the council puts the scheme out to tender. Under the plans, listed buildings will be refurbished and office accommodation constructed on neighbouring land. The contract is worth £20m.

The scheme is expected to include 34 apartments, a conference centre, public open square and a crèche. The design team is led by Derby practice Latham Architects, which will work with English Heritage and the council.