Moves to transform town site

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A RIVERSIDE park and a heritage hub have been put forward as ideas to help transform a piece of land in Belper.

The suggestions for the Meadows site came from local groups and residents when they attended workshops with planners appointed by Amber Valley Borough Council.

Groups included Belper Against Tesco Superstore (BATS), Belper For Tesco, Belper Historical Society, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, residents of Chevin View and Meadow Court, Long Row Primary School, St Elizabeth’s Primary School, English Heritage, Belper Central Methodist Church and Belper Meadows Sports Club.

The land in question is between the A6 and the River Derwent and includes Belper Town FC, Belper Hockey Club and the former Thorntons factory on Derwent Street.

Other ideas for the site include the creation of a formal square around the historic Unity Mill on Derwent Street, as well as new walkways and cycle paths.

Also suggested is the reinstatement of the former Strutt’s Carriageway — a historic path that once led from the South Lodge to the Babington Hospital building on Derby Road, and to the former Bridgehill House off Ashbourne Road — the creation of a promenade along the western edge of where the land might be developed, new access to the sports facilities on the Meadows, and new facilities around Belper Library.

All the suggestions are contained in a draft ‘Issues and Options’ document compiled by council planners.

Now members of the public are being invited to a drop-in event in Belper to see the ideas as part of a display.

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Cllr Stephen Hayes, the borough council’s cabinet member for developing places to live, said: “We hope to provide as much detail as possible so the area can benefit the town to increase the vitality, viability and attractiveness of this part of Belper, which lies at the heart of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.”

The planners held workshops with local interest and resident groups in November and January about concerns and ideas for the land.

Concerns included problems with traffic on Bridge Street and Chapel Street, access to the site and how to link it with the rest of the town, and the need to generate new jobs.

The land is owned by groups including the borough council and Tesco supermarket. A borough council spokesman said Tesco had no planning application lodged with the authority at the moment.

Further consultation periods are planned for June and August this year.

The public ‘drop-in’ event is to take place on Saturday, February 25, at the Masonic Hall, Campbell Street, Belper, between 10am and 3pm.