Bid to replace Belper’s River Gardens tearooms gains support

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

A replacement for Belper’s derelict River Gardens tearoom is a step closer after council bosses gave their support to the project.

In a milestone agreement, Amber Valley Borough Council, which owns the site, has agreed to work in partnership with the Belper Tearooms Association to complete the project.

The original Belper River Gardens tearooms with the heather roof. Photo contributed.

The original Belper River Gardens tearooms with the heather roof. Photo contributed.

Spokesperson for the association, Trevor Griffin, said: “This really is a milestone moment for us. All the work which has been done to improve the gardens makes the tearooms stick out like a sore thumb, so this is great news that we can start to move forward and have the council’s blessing and support.”

Next month the Swiss-style tearooms will be 110 years old, yet they have sat empty for more than 20 years.

The council previously developed proposals for a replacement Swiss tearooms building within Belper River Gardens, after it was agreed that a replica building would not sustain a business model to ensure the building’s long-term viability.

Last year Belper Town Council resolved to ring-fence £100,000 of funding towards a replacement building.

Trevor said: “This allows the project to go forward, now we are more than an idea.

“The public have waited a long time for the tearooms, and we cannot wait to get started on looking at a new, more cost-effective designs, and raising the funds to get it built.”

In order to be able to apply for other external funding, the group will need to be able to demonstrate a sufficient commitment from the borough council as landowner, that the replacement tearooms building will have security of tenure over a relatively long period.

Trevor said: “This is a community project and we want to work with people who are going to be using it in the future.”

The group will have to consider both conservation and environmental aspects when developing the rooms.

With an area prone to flooding this will need to be dealt with to ensure the project has longevity.

Trevor added: “This is just the start of a long and exciting journey. There is still a lot of fundraising and planning to do.”

At this stage, the association is particularly interested in finding volunteers to help with the project who have marketing, legal or engineering experience, but any support – even a donation – is welcome. The association will be consulting with the public and anyone who wishes to be involved can contact Trevor on 01773 821920.