Opinion: Belper North and East Mills – The World Heritage Site in Belper in the Hands of a Vandal

In our town we have Strutt’s North Mill, one of the most important buildings in the history and culture of England. Together with the East Mill the site has huge economic potential – just like the Silk Mill, which has secured over £9 million to turn it into a going concern.
For years the current owner of the two mills has let the East Mills rot and done precious little with the Grade 1 listed North Mills. It is called Carfrae Holdings and, needless to say, registered in Jersey. Amber Valley Borough Council has tried to persuade this lot to stop just ‘holding’ our heritage and do something positive but they ignore it. Our Neighbourhood Plan is being developed by volunteers to establish the principle of Brown Field not Green Field in Belper. The Mills are a classic case of a wonderful multi faceted development, as has happened in many other towns, being neglected. Meanwhile, year after year the applications for houses on the fields at Bullsmoor, Belper Lane or Bessalone roll in.
Since being elected as a councillor last year I have been a trustee of Belper North Mill Trust and, like the volunteers on the Trust and many other people, I am sick of this merry go round. Belper needs a coherent plan and active positive partners to look after our heritage and our present and future needs , which is fully supported by its people, not a hotchpotch of building by developers who calmly ignore us.
Belper North Mill Trust has just published an important report which it commissioned last year.  It is called ‘An Outline Masterplan for the Development of the Belper Mills Site’.  The Trust does not own the site and is of course routinely ignored by the present owner. But this vision for the Mills gives the people of Belper a good idea of what is possible and a cause to rally round.   The report can be found here.
Read it, tell your friends and feed back to the Trust. We must get more people to understand what is at stake and even more important, what we can all do about it as a town. We must not be victims of an unfair planning system and irreponsible owners.
Cllr Maurice Neville

8 thoughts on “Opinion: Belper North and East Mills – The World Heritage Site in Belper in the Hands of a Vandal

  • 23rd October 2017 at 8:42 pm
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    Must be time to compulsory purchase. And a letter to the culture Secretary. It’s such a waste.

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  • 23rd October 2017 at 9:02 pm
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    What happened after the meetings regarding ideas for its development? Lots of local people came together on two or more occasions and put together a list of possibilities. What was the point of that – did we waste our time, when its all impossible to carry out? Time to appeal to our politicians – starting with our local representative, Culture Secretary, Environment Secretary, Housing etc . Amber Valley Council surely have some leverage? (are they interested?)

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  • 23rd October 2017 at 11:43 pm
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    A well-needed article by Councillor Neville. Can he co-ordinate the public petitions to our local MP and relevant government ministers to push through a compulsory purchase order? My grandma’s newsagents was subject to one of these when Leeds CC wanted to build a large roundabout over her land. Surely Derbyshire CC have a far better reason in the case of our historic and irreplaceable mill?

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  • 24th October 2017 at 7:15 am
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    I am not a resident in Belper but visit often to see family. Belper town council does a lot for the town and if they want to repair this mill then I support them in their campaign. It’s a beautiful building and should not be allowed to fall into further disrepair.

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  • 24th October 2017 at 7:19 am
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    This has to be of crucial importance to the future of Belper and the WHS status, this area has so much potential to attract visitors and generate income in the future for the local community if the careless ownership can be overcome.

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  • 11th December 2017 at 6:31 am
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    I lived near Belper in the early-1980s. Currently, I reside in Melbourne, Australia, where globalisation has gradually swallowed everything – culture, human rights, the environment.

    Sad to hear the “merry go round” with Belper Mills is still on-going. Cllr Neville is correct, but don’t expect the management, owners, or creditors of Carfrae Holdings to act with any conscience/good intentions. Why should they? They are legally obligated to be motivated solely by shareholder profit.

    It is an extraordinary position that government is always ready to bail out a “too-big-to-fail” firm and yet fails to recognise the consequences for the broader culture and economy (and history) in this instance of allowing the mandate and legitimacy of UNESCO World heritage status to come to such a dead end.

    Local government and civil society can and must choose to clamp down on these profit-making machines for the benefit of all, thereby preventing corporations from ignoring the masses and the long term conservation and development of this iconic site for the short-term benefit of a handful of shareholders.

    This requires a real commitment and investment; a revival of social solidarity and a sustainable autonomy. Of course, enforced cut backs on government expenditure and increased privatisation systematically keep any such collective ethics of action in shackles.

     

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