Soapbox Roger Shelley: We want town to thrive but Tesco plan is just too big
THE development of the old Thorntons (Derwent Street) Meadows Edge site in Belper has been under discussion for a very long time and the matter of a relief road first emerged in 1937! Tesco now owns much of the land in question but no planning application has yet been made.
Amber Valley Borough Council is just completing its development brief which will tell any developer what is expected on the site and this will have legal status. The final draft of this "supplementary planning document" is being prepared following detailed input from the public and organisations such as the civic forum. It is due to go to the planning board of the council on December 17, but it will be published on www. ambervalley.gov.uk a week before, giving us all a last opportunity to comment.
Belper Civic Forum supports the conclusion of the recent retail study, commissioned by the borough council: the town does not have the need or the capacity to support another supermarket of the size originally proposed by Tesco (80,000 sq ft and 600 cars). That would be bigger than Heanor or Alfreton Tesco and more than twice the size of Belper Morrisons. Consultation over six years has led us to a clear position: we are not against Tesco but we are against a very large superstore that is located on the other side of a new road with poor links to the rest of the town.
We all want to see the town centre thriving and more local jobs are desperately needed. Research in other towns shows conclusively that huge superstores initially appear to bring new jobs and vitality but this is not sustained because smaller stores begin to disappear and jobs with them – many more than those created.
The civic forum's positive proposals for Meadows Edge (www.belpercivicforum.org "Belper at the Crossroads" and "Our Vision") cater for genuinely mixed uses: shopping, leisure and tourism, work units and homes.
This is a wonderful position in the river valley, in a World Heritage Site and conservation area. Whatever happens here will have a huge impact on the future of Belper. This is an opportunity for initiative and vision. Any major development should only be considered in the context of a master plan for the town as a whole.
It is not too late to take action! If you want to know more, contact us at belper email@example.com, or by post to Strutts, Derby Road, Belper, DE56 1UU.