Creating a deliverable, sustainable and appropriate long-term future for the Belper Mills.
The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (DVMWHS) Partnership is concerned about the deteriorating condition of the highly significant historic buildings on the North and East Mills site.
Please read the information below, view the attached plans then click here to complete the survey and share your views. The survey is open until 11.30pm Sunday 17th December.
The Current Situation:
The owner of the North and East Mills site has submitted planning and listed building consent applications for this site to the local planning authority – Amber Valley Borough Council. These were submitted in March 2019 and were amended in the summer of 2022. They are currently awaiting decision and determination.
The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Partnership believes there are serious challenges to delivering the scheme which is currently being considered by Amber Valley Borough Council. The Partnership believes alternative options should be explored to repair and reuse the buildings in ways that allow for additional funders and partners to support a scheme that can be delivered.
Why are these buildings so important?
World Heritage Sites are places that UNESCO (The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) decides have Outstanding Universal Value to Humanity’. They are special, valuable and unique and belong to all the people of the world no matter where they live. There are ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ sites listed all around the world including places like the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the UK and Virunga National Park in Congo.
The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site follows the River Derwent from north to south including the mill buildings, associated housing, transport and water management structures and includes the surrounding landscape of the valley running from Matlock Bath in the north, through Cromford, Belper, Milford, Darley Abbey and into Derby. The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site was inscribed as a World Heritage Site as the things that happened here in the past changed how we live and work forever. The site includes:
The first successful large scale use of waterpower in the manufacture and spinning of cotton and silk thread.
The development of mass production via the factory system copied throughout the world.
The provision of housing for workers, schools, gardens and parks, street lighting, gas supplies etc. to attract families to work at the mills.
The development of new ways of farming and food production.
Transport systems of toll roads, railways and canals to move products and people.
Large scale textile production later moving to other cities leaving the relict landscape ‘suspended in time’ with the mills, waterways, housing and canals inserted into a rural landscape of farmland and woodland.
Developing an alternative plan:
Over the past few months the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site have commissioned consultants to develop alternative options uses and combinations for the Belper Mills site. We need this alternative plan as the DVMWHS Partnership believes the proposals put forwards by the owners of the North and East Mills site will negatively impact on the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
There are some important criteria that any options and combinations of uses must meet. A long list of possible uses was proposed and have been assessed by the consultant team and in-depth consultation exercises with representatives from a range of different local communities. This process has helped to narrow down this long list to a short list of potential use combinations and scenarios.
The overarching aim is to:
Create a deliverable, sustainable and appropriate long-term future for the Belper Mills.
These options aim to:
Protect the important buildings, setting of the mills and World Heritage Site status
Be financially viable to restore and operate sustainably into the future
Meet the needs of local communities as well as regional and national needs.
Our shortlist of potential uses – what has been considered and why?
You will be able to explore the proposed uses on the attached document and we will be seeking your feedback on these. However, we encourage you to also consider the issues outlined below to help understand why certain uses were ruled out. It also highlights why some uses are located in particular locations on the proposals. Compatible and complimentary uses have also had to be considered:
Building and Architectural Issues:
Flood and Water: There is a flood risk as the site is adjacent to the River Derwent which impacts on all ground floor potential uses. There are also some elements of concealed and unknown water courses providing difficulties in the use of some areas.
Accessibility: There are accessibility and disability considerations with a historic building that was not designed to be ‘used by all’. This impacts on the provision and design relating to lifts, access, emergency evacuation etc.
Daylight: The East Mills has a very large footprint space on each floor. Getting appropriate daylight into the centre of the building for certain uses is a challenge.
Columns: The East Mill, North Mill and Strutt House buildings have columns on all floors which divides up space and impacts on possible uses.
Comfort and Safety: There is a need to achieve standards of sound and temperature control, insulation and fire safety separation which is difficult in a historic building and again impacts on possible appropriate uses. Fire escape and access needs impact on the use and design.
Conservation: It is important to increase access and understanding of the buildings and not alter the historic fabric to an extent that would represent unacceptable harm to the listed building status or World Heritage Site designation.
Parking: Car Parking is a major issue – there is a need to provide adequate parking for the uses proposed without detracting from the setting and understanding the buildings on site. You will see some of the scenarios put forwards include the provision of parking on the Courtaulds/West Mills site over the road. This site is in different ownership but might be an option to explore if it helps the development of the East and North Mill side of the road where much more of the historic fabric of the buildings and watercourses are retained. Other scenarios show how parking can be achieved using parts of the East Mill as well as on-site parking with disabled parking facilities and access.
The following have also been reviewed in detail to shape the potential uses shortlist. These considerations ruled out some of the potential uses proposed.
Views of the Community: Feedback has been taken from in depth community consultations on the initial possible uses. Opinions considered what people wanted to see in the mill complex and the needs of the community, town and region.
Suitability: Does the proposed use suit Belper’s character and needs? Does it align with relevant national, regional and local policies and plans, for example housing plans, neighbourhood plans, previous studies etc.
Environmental Concerns: Issues such as vehicle movements, transport pressures, physical and natural environmental concerns have also been considered.
Funding and Capital: Market testing and deliverability research has looked to include options that have the ability to attract capital funding to get the plan delivered. The current state of the building means there is substantial and costly restoration work required before redevelopment for new uses would be possible. The cost of this, often called the ‘conservation deficit’, will be higher for some uses than others which makes it highly unlikely that the capital funding that will be needed can be found (this includes funding from commercial sources such as investment from developers as well as grant funding).
The Shortlist of Option Scenarios:
There are 5 option scenarios presented in the attached document. At the start of each of the scenarios there is a site drawing which gives a name for each of the current buildings on the site to help you to see where the uses are proposed for. ALL options are mixed-use for the site with one ‘main use’ requiring more of the floor space focused on the East Mill. This ‘main use’ informs the title of the option but each scenario includes many other uses of the considerable space available. Each option is presented with plans, cross-sectional drawings and example images to give a potential flavour of what these uses could look like.
ALL options include the provision of:
A visitor centre option
Where residential use is proposed it is of varying sizes with natural daylight.
Atrium to upper floors:
All of the options include ‘an atrium to the upper floors’ of the East Mill. This is essentially a ‘light well’ and way of increasing daylight to the centre of the East Mills building and providing appropriate access. The cross-sectional image below shows how this might look retaining the column structures.
Internal glazed balconies:
The options also include reference to ‘internal glazed balconies’. This means that the East Mills building would appear the same from the outside (protecting its appearance). An internal wall would be ‘set back’ from the outside wall providing a balcony space for use by the resident, business, apartment or hotel room.
Option 1: Residential – Key information to note
Here the primary use is residential, with around 94 mixed tenure flats/apartments in the East Mill and approximately 15 in the North Mill.
The first two floors of the East Mill are proposed as gym and leisure facilities including a pool, plant and stores for the facilities and adventure play and a café. The Turbine House would become the access point for the gym and leisure facilities.
The North Mill is proposed to be visitor centre, shared workshop and flats/apartments.
Strutt House is proposed as a nursery with the workshops being engagement space and gallery.
This scenario proposes the removal of the pavilion building.
Parking here is proposed for 330 spaces on the West Mill site leaving the East Mill car free with the exception of limited residential parking for accessibility and disability needs.
Option 2: Multi-generation/Co-living – Key Information to note
Here the primary use is for Multi-generational or co-living apartments with communal facilities for use by the residents. The range of facilities and the size of the units available in the new ‘village’ will encourage householders at all life stages – that is people at pre-family, family and senior life stages – to live independently but together in Belper. It is proposed for approximately 60 mixed tenure flats/apartments.
The lowest floor of the East Mill is proposed as car parking with the 1st and 2 floors being gym and leisure facilities, shared facilities for multi-generational living and co-working spaces and use by small businesses.
The North Mill has a mixture proposed of a restaurant and visitor centre, space for small businesses and approximately 15 flats/apartments linked to the workshops which are proposed as engagement and workshop spaces.
Strutt House is proposed as a coffee shop with small businesses.
This scenario proposes the removal of the pavilion and also removal of part of the Power House to form a foyer for the multi-generational residential facilities.
The Turbine House is proposed as a gym and entrance to a co-working area.
Parking in this scenario includes 40 spaces within the East Mill and a further 75 to the south and 30 to the east of the site.
Option 3: Commercial / Mixed Use – Key Information to Note
This primary use is commercial and mixed use with a focus on extending the range and mix of leisure facilities, services and business in Belper. The ground floor and decked Level 1 of the East Mill is an events space leaving the existing historic structure exposed. The rest of the first floor and second floor are used for approximately 72 hotel rooms. The remaining floors are proposed as 77 flats/apartments. The Turbine House becomes the entrance and foyer for the hotel with the Power House becoming the entrance/foyer for the events space.
The North Mill is used for a gym and leisure facilities, a visitor centre, small businesses and offices.
Strutt House is proposed as a nursery with the workshops being used for small businesses.
The Pavilion is proposed in this scenario as a restaurant.
The Parking is mixed with 183 spaces proposed around the East Mill site and a further 300 proposed on the West Mill site.
Option 4: Hotel
This scenario uses the majority of the East Mill as a hotel with the aim of growing Belper as a destination for leisure and business tourism. Parking is proposed on the lower floor of the East Mill with Levels 1 and 2 being conferencing and bar facilities. The approximately 144 hotel rooms start at Levels 3 and 4 where the central area (with no daylight) is proposed as commercial leisure/meeting rooms. Upper levels 5 and 6 are hotel rooms with a central glazed atrium.
The Turbine House becomes the conferencing entrance/foyer and the Power House becomes the hotel entrance/foyer with a restaurant/bar and breakfasting area.
The North Mill is proposed as a nursery with a visitor centre and approximately 15 flats. With further visitor centre space in the Workshops.
Strutt House is proposed as a café with small businesses.
In this scenario the pavilion is removed.
Parking is proposed with 300 spaces on the West Mill site and 40 spaces on the lower floor of East Mill.
Option 5: Live / Work Village
In this scenario the primary use is a live / work village concept with spaces for people to live and work at different stages of life and career from first job through to established businesses. Although not exclusively so, the mix of uses in this option is aimed at people in a younger age demographic, encouraging more people of working age to locate in Belper to live and work. The East Mill has parking to the ground floor. The East Mill first floor features a gym, flexible meeting space, a tech lab (research space) and food hall / independent retail with break out space. Floors 2 to 4 are ‘grow on’ office units with communal areas for established businesses starting to expand. Floors 5 and 6 are designed for approximately 13 live/work apartments. These are two-bedroom apartments which have a separate office space with external access for businesses to see clients.
The Turbine House becomes the access to the East Mill activities and ‘grow on’ offices.
The Power House is proposed as a live music bar, coffee bar and co-working space.
The North Mill has a visitor centre at the ground floor, small business incubator office units at level 1 for new businesses to establish in. There are 12 live / work apartments proposed to Levels 2 to 4.
In this scenario Strutt House is proposed as a café with further small business incubator office units. The workshops provide a convenience store for the on-site live/work residents with further small incubator office units.
The pavilion is proposed to be removed and parking is proposed with 300 spaces on the West Mill site and 40 spaces on the ground floor of the East Mill.
Please take some time to look at the plans and cross sectionsfor each option. A link to a survey for you to give your feedback will go live here on Monday 20th November and run until the 17th December.