Cromford Mills: The World Heritage Site Visitor Gateway
The World Heritage Site Visitor Gateway is intended to provide a focal point within the northern part of the DVMWHS to attract a broad spectrum of visitors, engage interest in a variety of ways, provide opportunities to learn about the heritage and signpost to key locations within Cromford and the wider World Heritage Site; proposals to convert the ground floor of Building 17 to serve in this way include a new auditorium, exhibition area, shop and historical interpretation based on archaeological evidence within Building 17 and the adjacent Building 18 (Arkwright’s first mill).
This idea endorses the DVMWHS Economic Development Plan principle of visitor “attract and disperse” arrangements that depend on the development of two key “hubs” or “gateways”: in the north at Cromford, in the south at Derby, with Belper as a possible third in the middle of the World Heritage Site. The Cromford hub is seen as having the greatest potential in its ability to attract investment and visitors, due to its proximity to the already-popular Peak District National Park and other visitor attractions.
It is also intended the ‘Gateway’ will serve as a base for a significant increase in the level of heritage activities and events to raise public participation and learning about the heritage of Cromford Mills and of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The Creative Cluster Managed Workspace
This proposal has followed from recent strategic reports indicating a need for this type of facility; in particular the Derbyshire County Council
“Creative Industries Sites & Workspace Study 2006” which points to a significant need for flexible workspace accommodation, the lack of suitable premises within Derbyshire, and identifies Cromford Mills Building 17 as the priority site due to its location, size of premises and accessibility; hence new and expanding ‘creative industries’ (i.e. audio- visual, books and press, performance, visual arts and design) and other innovative businesses will be the focus of this new facility.
Added value for businesses in the workspace will include networking with similar businesses and use of existing facilities at Cromford Mills, e.g. meeting, conference and catering facilities. UK Business Incubators research indicates approx 98% of businesses succeed in this type of workspace and 87% survive after 5 years of starting, compared to a national average below 50%.
A manager and shared reception/administration service will provide on- site support for businesses in the workspace, including signposting to relevant services and using the Society’s existing links with the University of Derby to encourage communication between young businesses in the Creative Cluster and knowledge and expertise of the university as a catalyst for innovation.
Removable floor-to-ceiling partitions on floors one to three will enable secure workspace units to be created to suit changing tenant requirements, providing units of approximately 16 to 37 square metres (175 to 400 square feet). The fourth floor will provide space for approximately 30 workstations for people who prefer to work within an open-plan format.