Council approve £16m plans for former factory site

An artist impression of how the former thorntons factory will look if it becomes a care home and library.
An artist impression of how the former thorntons factory will look if it becomes a care home and library.

Amber Valley Borough Council have approved plans to turn a former chocolate factory in Belper into a £16million care home and public library.

The council’s planning committee met on Monday, April 10, and delivered their long-awaited decision on the site of the old Thorntons factory on Derwent Street.

Members considered three separate applications from Derbyshire County Council, who were seeking permission to demolish most of the site’s current buildings and begin their replacement.

A spokesperson for the county council said: “We’re delighted to get the go-ahead for this great addition to the town.

“We’re investing just over £16million in the development which features a new, state-of-the-art 40-bed residential care home to replace Ada Belfield, which, although providing high quality care for Belper residents, is no longer fit for purpose.”

The site has stood vacant for several years and parts of it are considered derelict and in unsafe condition while others have been subject to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

The demolition order covers modern factory buildings on the site, an older factory building west of Chapel Street and two modern garage buildings in the yard between numbers 4 and 6 Chapel Street.

There are however important conditions attached to the project which aim to conserve elements of the site’s heritage.

The council spokesman said: “The library will be housed in the site’s most historic building - the former Castle Blouse factory dating back to the 1800s.

“Featuring exposed beams and steel columns dating back to its time as a factory, library visitors will now be able to see the building’s historic interior for themselves.”

They added: “We know this site is important to the town and that’s why we’ll be keeping the Derwent Street façade of the Thorntons factory as well.”

While the project had raised fears over increased traffic, the final design will have fewer residential occupants, improved road access and a public square with pedestrian links to the town via Bridge Street.

As well as rehoming residents of the Ada Belfield centre, the library will replace the current facility on Bridge Street to offer improved ICT facilities and disabled access.

The third planning request related to outline permission for another unspecified institutional or leisure building on the site and another one for retail space may follow.

Demolition is expected to start next month, with building work set to be completed by the summer of 2019.

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