A former bookmaker’s in Heanor is to be transformed into the town’s first community shop in a bid to boost new businesses.
The premises, at 1c Market Street, off the market place, will be revamped by Heanor Traders’ Association to provide a low-rent office space that can be shared by three or four new ventures.
Rents will be set at around £50 per week to entice prospective entrepreneurs and the first year’s rates will be underwritten by Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC).
Geoffrey Thompson, vice chair of Heanor Traders’ Association, hopes the shop will be ready in time for an Easter opening.
He said: “The work starts now to attract prospective tenants. We have got to be proactive rather than wait for tenants to appear.
“We have got approximately two months of refurbishment work and we are hoping for an Easter opening.”
“The community shop is primarily intended for business use.
“We don’t want it to conflict with the market - we want to complement the market and accelerate retail activity in the town.”
AVBC’s regeneration manager Stephen Jackson said: “It gives a stepping stone for people who might have a market stall to getting them a retail unit.
“Tenants will also get a lot of support from AVBC to develop their business ideas.
The traders’ association have done a lot to develop the market. This shop will hopefully bring permanence and variety to Heanor.”
Councillor Paul Jones paid tribute to the efforts that had already been made, saying: “Heanor Traders’ Association have done a lot to develop the market.
“This is the most dynamic association we have had for 25 years.
“I think this scheme has got the energy and vitality to lift Heanor from the position it’s in now and offer it a better future.
“We have got to have a diversity of shops and it is important to encourage this in the town.”
The cost of the refurbishment is being met by South Lodge Community Fund, Portas funding and Dones Bookmaker, the current leaseholder.
AVBC has given a grant to cover the business rates for the first year of the project.
The premises, which are owned by Elder and Twells estate agents, have stood empty for five years since Betfred relocated to the market place.
Ian Elder, of Elder and Twells, said leaseholders Dones Bookmaker had contributed 25 per cent of the costs of refurbishment.
He said the project was also being supported by Elder and Twells “as the landlords to try and re-promote the use of the shop.”
Sarah Acikigoz, chair of Heanor Traders’ Association, said: “It’s a prime location and we hope this will encourage other investors to Heanor.
“Students from Derby College will help re-wire the shop so they can gain work experience.
“We are trying to involve as many areas of the community as they can.”
For more information call into the Elder and Twells office at 15 Market Street, Heanor, for an information pack.