Strutts Logo Run by volunteers for Belper

Belper News - 8th May 2013

The Strutts Community Project

In this second article about the Strutts Community Centre in Belper, I would like to outline some of our plans for the future of the site. The approach so far has been to establish the new uses for the building and this has made it a popular venue for community groups and businesses. With 20 class rooms , it can host a range of activities at the same time, but it needs careful planning of bookings. There is much that needs to be done to convert this vast former primary school to make it more suitable for adults, especially with the “smallest rooms”, the toilets!

As a fine Grade II listed building of historical importance to Belper this site should be a valuable legacy for future generations, but unless the building is made weatherproof it will become a burden on the community. To this end we have completed a first phase of flat roof repairs and this summer we will make a start repairing the tiled roof. We have also started the restoration of the Library by plastering the ceiling and re-decorating .

Prolonged very cold winters have been a great challenge to the Project as heating is our largest operating cost. We have taken the decision that users need to be warm and to accept the financial penalty. We need to thermally insulate the building and improve the efficiency of the heating system. For the future we hope to reduce our heating and utility bills by investing in renewable energy.

The largest and best rooms on the site are on the first floor but plans to extend their uses are restricted by the stairs. We have started fund raising to provide access to the first floor with a passenger lift.

Since our primary aim is to provide facilities for community groups we need to invest in conversion of the building for new uses. We have set up catering facilities off the hall with a new kitchen in the former primary school cloakroom. Eventually the old school kitchens will be brought back into use for larger scale catering and perhaps even cookery classes.

We now have wireless broadband available in Hall which will be extended to cover the whole building. (Update: Now most of the building.)

We are always open to new ideas for potential community uses of the site but this requires community involvement to turn ideas into reality. The main problem facing the Project, however, are the extended opening hours, from 9.00 to 22.30, including weekends. We rely entirely on volunteers to keep the place open, so if you can help in any way phone Strutts Reception on 01773 599993 or email reception@strutts.org.uk

Thanks

Nick McLeod
Chairman of Trustees
Guardians of Strutts