MP to press Tesco over site

Belper fire from Bridge Street taken by Mary Davis
Belper fire from Bridge Street taken by Mary Davis
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MP Pauline Latham is to press supermarket giant Tesco to come up with a use for the land it owns in Belper after it dropped a plan to build a megastore there.

Tesco ditched its controversial plan for a large store on land it owns off Derwent Street in April ending years of speculation. Four weeks later arsonists caused a huge fire at the derelict Thornton’s factory, which is on part of the site that had been earmarked for the store. Those opposed to the Tesco scheme felt it would damaged the town centre.

Since then the MP, the Belper News and townsfolk have called for something to be done with the site, which is known as Meadows Edge.

Now Mrs Latham, who’s Mid Derbyshire constituency includes Belper, is to write to Tesco in a bid to get something done. She hopes to get bosses from the store chain to attend a meeting with leaders from groups, such as Belper Civic Society, Transition Belper and Belper Town Council.

The move came after the Tory MP staged a meeting at the Heritage Centre at The Butts in the town, on Thursday, October 3, when people, including from community groups, business bosses and councillors meet to talk about what their group did and to offer a ‘vision’ for the town’s future.

They said the Meadows Edge site was crucial to the town. Gary Spendlove, from lingerie and nightwear firm Slenderella, of Queen Street, said he knew of businesses that would buy up 10,000sq ft of space in Belper ‘tomorrow’ and this site would be ideal.

He said: “The Tesco land is the biggest factor in the town

“Being in the middle of town it could be a jewel in the crown.”

Mrs Latham said: “I will write to Tesco and I will ask them to come to a meeting and then we can all come and talk with them.”

The MP had organised Thursday’s meeting to find out about the many groups which work in the town and to provide an opportunity for them to get together in the same room to share their ideas.

They agreed there were many diverse things happening in Belper, there was great community spirit and a thriving diverse high street.

The meeting heard from Adrian Farmer, from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, of which Belper is a part, who told how its Belper Ambassadors Scheme, where trained volunteers promote the town to visitors, was a huge success and was being looked at by other towns.

Ian Jackson, from Transition Belper and Amber Valley Community Energy, said the Transition group which works towards townfolk living more sustainable lives, was looking into the possibility of using hydro-power in the area.

Wendy Moore from Fresh Basil and the Totally Locally scheme, which aims to promote shopping locally, said Belper’s high street employed about 800 people and was ‘collectively the largest employer in town’.

She said: “Belper is a town that bucks the national trend and we have a vibrant high street.”