Plea to back public’s choice on tea rooms

Belper river Gardens.
Belper river Gardens.

A CONCERNED group is urging that the views of the Belper public are heeded when a design for the town’s new tea rooms is chosen.

Friends of Belper River Gardens is concerned that Amber Valley Borough Council will choose the design that was most popular with a panel of judges.

Instead, the group want the design by Lathams — which topped a public poll — to become the new Swiss Tea Rooms.

The competition to find a new design for the tea rooms, which is in the River Gardens, was whittled down to six candidates by the panel.

But it is set to be a two-horse race between Lathams and the design by McNeill Beechey O’Neil when the final decision is made at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, September 28.

The Friends’ group has drawn up five points saying why it believes Lathams’ design should be chosen.

A spokesman said: “We have based our views on what we think are the most important criteria. We also discussed the issues with English Heritage and with professionals in the catering industry.

“On this basis we believe that the Lathams proposal is the clear ‘winner’.”

The Friends believe Lathams’ design is more likely to be commercially successful; is likely to be significantly cheaper to build; is less likely to stall at the planning stage; will not have an adverse impact on the River Gardens and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site; and is more popular.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “The outcome of the public consultation and the judging panel’s recommendations are to be included in a detailed report for the council to consider at its meeting on Wednesday, September 28.

“The report will also contain feedback from interested parties, including the Friends.”

The Friends group is holding a public meeting on the issue tomorrow, September 8, at 7.30pm, at St John’s Chapel, St John’s Road, Belper.

There will be a presentation of the group’s views and an opportunity for members of the public to do the same. There will also be the opportunity for discussion.

A spokesman said: “The outcome of the public consultation and the Panel ‘s recommendations are to be included in a detailed report for the Council to consider at its meeting on Wednesday 28 September. The report will also contain feedback from interested parties including the Friends.”