Praise for conservation projects which are boosting local economy
DERBYSHIRE is a shining example of how conservation projects can create jobs and business growth, according to a new report.
English Heritage highlights a number of projects, including a £4.5 million scheme that will bring one of Cromford's historic mills back into use and will lead to 25 businesses taking up shop in the building.
The work, at Building 17, will include the conversion of four floors into office space, as well as the building of a visitor gateway centre for tourists coming to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
And a scheme in Derby that has seen out-of-date 1960s and 1970s shop fronts replaced with historic Victorian and Edwardian facades is also praised in the document, Constructive Conservation – Sustainable Growth for Historic Places.
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Anthony Streeten, of English Heritage, said the report had been produced to highlight the importance of conservation projects.
He said: "Buildings inherited from previous generations can serve the future well.
"The businesses featured in our new publication demonstrate that conservation goes hand in hand with job creation and growth.
"Repair and adaptation of our existing building stock is inherently sustainable and these historic buildings demonstrate heritage is clearly not a barrier to growth."
Much of the conservation work in Derby has taken place in the Cathedral Quarter, where the character of some buildings had been lost through neglect and bad alterations.
In response, the city council and English Heritage launched a restoration fund.
Over the past five years, the fund has given out 72 grants totalling £1.2 million to city centre shops, to help pay for shop fronts to undergo a makeover.
Councillor Hardyal Dhindsa, who champions heritage projects in the city, said he was delighted the work being done in Derby was highlighted in English Heritage's latest report.
He said: "Derby's inclusion in the report demonstrates that we are leading the way in boosting regeneration and inward investment.
"The combination of public-realm works and reinstatement of shop frontages has attracted new businesses to open and encouraged existing ones to stay in the area and grow their businesses.
"It has meant that Derby is bucking the national trend in terms of retail occupancy rates."
Estate agent Trevor Raybould, whose former office in Derby was one of those to benefit from the scheme in the city centre, said it was money well spent.
"Without the scheme, large areas of the city centre would now lie barren," he claimed.
"With the scheme, the converse is true.
"Three years ago, some 60-plus small shops were vacant. Now there are maybe less than 20."