Call for tea rooms to be a ‘facsimile’

belper tea rooms design.
belper tea rooms design.

the Friends of Belper River Gardens group wants the Swiss Tea Rooms to be reconstructed as close as possible to the previous building.

The group has written to Amber Valley Borough Council, which is heading up the scheme to redesign the historic structure in the town’s listed River Gardens, also within the World Heritage site.

Its members have revealed that they have met to discuss the redesigning of the tea rooms.

A shortlist of six designs has been chosen by a panel of judges, who will then choose a winner.

Twenty-one designs were originally submitted after the council started a search to find an architect to redesign the venue.

But, after viewing the six proposals, the Friends group has said it wants a “facsimile” of the previous incarnation.

Failing that, the Friends said they prefer the design by Latham Architects, which is option ‘U’ on forms circulated to the public.

Trevor Griffin, chairman of the Friends group, said: “Our preferred option is for the tea rooms to be restructured in facsimile, with additional seasonal seating provided either externally or in a temporary distinct structure located on the north side of the existing tea rooms. “We consider that other solutions may threaten the World Heritage status of the valley and also the Historic Parks and Gardens listing by English Heritage. Preserving this status is a priority for us.

“Of the shortlisted options, we prefer ‘U’ (Latham Architects). This is because this scheme replicates the most distinctive features of the existing building and is also an attractive and functional design.”

The group also expressed its dismay at not being invited by the council to be involved in the selection process.

It also put forward its reasons for rejecting the other schemes, including what it claims would be encroachment on to the open area between the existing building and the river, ‘inappropriate designs’, with buildings too high or too large, poor quality finish and detail, and the use of grey rather than reddish brown local stone.

The public consultation period for the six shortlisted designs ended on Sunday, March 20 and the council is in the process of gathering up the consensus of opinion before moving forward.