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Belper News Article 03/11/14

Strutts - Another View (From Above)

I have recently been researching the history of the Herbert Strutt School building and came across the excellent on-line series of photographs from English Heritage's “Britain From Above” collection. This includes a number of aerial photographs taken in 1931 of Belper in which the School can be clearly seen. I hope to obtain copies of these and display them at Strutts to illustrate the changes in the building and the town.

Other photographs show many of our familiar landmarks and several large undeveloped green spaces around Belper's town centre, now turned over to housing. The comparison with the Belper of today, and the changes that have been made in the intervening 80 odd years, is fascinating. The source of Belper's prosperity was its industry, which subsequently grew during, and after, the Second World War. I have heard it said that there were so many jobs in Belper that if you left one on Friday you were guaranteed of finding one on the following Monday. Belper was a thriving community.

With the demise of its industry, the current progression of housing developments on the former industrial sites, including recently Silkolene, Deb, and now the proposals for Thorntons and Bullsmoor, are denying the community the opportunity for employment within the town boundaries. Since the War, the Belper area has lost around 8,000 jobs from large employers which have not been replaced. There is nowhere suitable for new and small businesses to start up and grow, the only option for them is to look elsewhere.

Belper desperately needs a planning framework for future developments. Apart from housing it needs to plan for community facilities, infrastructure and critically it needs space for employment. The way forward is the production of a formal “neighbourhood plan”. Local government has a key role in leading this process, but we must all engage in the discussions as we in the community will suffer the consequences of piecemeal developments.

Finally, on a change of tack, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all our volunteers for their efforts over the last 12 months together with my thanks to our many users. I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. You can make a difference and if you would like to help in any way with the Strutts Community Project please contact me, Nick McLeod, at Strutts tel: 01773 599993.

Nick McLeod

Chairman of Trustees

Guardians of Strutts