No support for land sale proposal to fund Belper tea rooms plan

The old tearooms at Belper River Gardens.
The old tearooms at Belper River Gardens.

A proposal to funnel money from the sale of land in Belper into a much-delayed community project has been defeated by councillors.

The proposal - put forward by Belper North councillor Ben Bellamy - would have seen the River Gardens Tea Rooms benefitting from money from the sale of 2.1 acres of land off Field Lane.

However, at a full meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council in Ripley on Wednesday evening the motion was defeated after failing to attract any support for the majority Conservative group.

Speaking for the motion, Coun Bellamy said: “The tea rooms are the jewel in the crown of Belper - there is little prospect of anything happening with them at the moment so I think it is now time to put up or shut up.”

“Everyone wants this in Belper - it would revitalise the town and its importance to the world heritage site.”

Coun Bellamy said that the Field Lane land had become a ‘white elephant’ since being bought to house a leisure centre that was never built.

Under his proposal - which formed a key part of the Belper Labour Party’s election campaign in May - the land would be sold at an ‘acceptable price’ and the money used to meet the gap in funding for the tea rooms.

The motion was opposed, however, by many Conservative councillors who balked at the costs involved and suggested the Labour group should have more confidence in the community interest company (CIC) set up to handle the project.

Belper North councillor Joseph Booth said: “The tea rooms committee is trying its hardest to raise the funds and I think to pull the rug out from under them is a disgrace.”

Asked for an adjudication on whether it was possible to earmark funds from land sales for certain projects, executive director of resources, Sylvia Delahay, said that it was not ‘normal practice’.

The current tea rooms building was originally built in 1906 but has been left empty for a number of years and has since fallen into disrepair.

The CIC, Belper Community Enterprise, was created in May and has since put forward plans to replace the current building with a new custom-built cafe and community space.