A group bidding to breathe new life into Belper’s riverside tearooms has celebrated an important fundraising milestone.
The proposal to replace the existing derelict building in the town’s River Gardens is being driven forward by a community interest company, owned and controlled by residents.
To encourage members of the public to show their support, the group launched a buy-a-brick scheme to enable them to pledge £25 to purchase a virtual ‘brick’.
This fundraising appeal has now received its 500th pledge - the most recent coming from New Zealand - which in total has helped amass £12,500 for Belper Community Enterprise CIC Ltd towards preliminary costs.
The company has already secured promises of funding from local councils and is in the process of applying for grants to cover capital costs.
And in another landmark for the estimated £450,000 project, designs for the modern replacement tearooms have navigated the pre-planning stage, with Amber Valley Borough Council indicating the proposals “would be likely to receive favourable consideration”. A formal planning application is now expected to be submitted.
Trevor Griffin, a director of Belper Community Enterprise, said: “It is important to make a success of building the new tearooms, ensuring that they are sustainable, meet public aspirations and the needs of official organisations. We will only get one chance and we need to get it right.
“This means that it can be a slow process, but we appreciate the support and patience of local people who have helped us get the project so far.
“The strong backing that we receive from the two local councils is also vitally important. We still intend to be serving the first customers in 2018!”
The company has also raised £2,000 from fundraising events, sales and donations, including £500 from the Belper branch of Specsavers.
While Go Green PAT has agreed to carry out all PAT testing on electrical apparatus at the new tearooms free of charge for one year.
Other offers of sponsorship or donations by local businesses can be made by emailing email@example.com.
People can still sign up to the buy-a-brick scheme. Donors receive a certificate, an entry on a virtual wall on the website - to be replaced by a permanent plaque in the building - and an invitation to the opening event.
For more information about this and other fundraising events, visit www.belpertearooms.co.uk.