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Strutts Community Centre


Monday 27th October 2008 - Belper Civic Forum



A wonderful opportunity has arisen for the people of Belper with the agreement of Amber Valley Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council to lease the original Herburt Strutt School to the Belper Civic Forum on behalf of the people of Belper. The intention is that the building will be used for community and commercial purposes and that it will be organised as an independent self-financing social enterprise.

The forum would like to thank everyone who attended the open meetings or signed the petition as they have all helped in this initial success. There will be more opportunities to get involved at a further public meeting to be held later this year - watch the press for details. In the meantime if you have a business or a community group that may be interested in using the building please either check out the website where you can register to receive further information or contact Trevor Griffin on 0845-349-2369.

Janet Honey chair of the Belper Civic Forum said, "This is a really exciting outcome to a lot of work with the County and Borough Councils. We would like to thank everybody for their support. The school is a wonderful asset for the town and hopefully it is now safe for the next hundred years."

Nonday 27th Octobre -

Former school outlined for community use

27 October 2008

An historic former school is outlined for development under a charitable trust to become a combined community and business centre.

Belper Civic Forum is proposing to take over and maintain the former Herbert Strutt Primary School building, in Derby Road, Belper, and form a new independent charitable development trust to continue to run it.

The trust would run the former school buildings on a non-profit basis to benefit the local community, maintain the buildings for future generations and provide a site for businesses.

Derbyshire County Council was given the buildings by Herbert Strutt in 1909 and used them as a school until February this year when pupils and staff transferred to a new 3.7 million state-of-the-art building off Bargate Road. The terms of the gift were open to interpretation as to whether the county council or Amber Valley Borough Council were the residual trustees after the premises ceased to be used as a school.

Derbyshire County Council has been working in partnership with Amber Valley Borough Council to find potential future uses for the buildings.

A feasibility study, commissioned by the Belper and Milford Townscape Heritage Initiative, earmarked the site for community and business use.

Belper Civic Forum has developed proposals to run the building, under lease from Derbyshire County Council, until they set up the new trust. More detailed plans for the site's future use as a community and business centre would then be developed.

Councillor John Williams, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: "The former Herbert Strutt Primary School site is an historic site which we would like to see preserved and maintained so it continues to serve the people of Belper."

"We have carefully considered the available options with our partners and closely examined the feasibility study and forum's proposals so we can safeguard the future of the buildings and make sure they continue to have a role in the community."

Councillor Stuart Bradford, leader of Amber Valley Borough Council, said: "I know the Belper borough councillors wholeheartedly support these proposals, so we will be supporting the recommendations to our council meeting on 5 November, giving officers the authority to execute the legal documents necessary to give effect to these proposals."

Janet Honey, chair of Belper Civic Forum, said: "This is a really exciting outcome to a lot of work developing our ideas for the future of the building."

"We would like to thank everybody who contributed at our public meetings or signed the petition showing their support for our plans. The school is a much loved and valued listed building and is a wonderful asset for the town and hopefully it is now safe for the next 100 years."

Details of the lease between Derbyshire County Council and Belper Civic Forum are being finalised and the agreement is expected to be signed shortly.

27th February 2008

No embargo, immediate release


The Herbert Strutt School in Belper, affectionately known as "Strutts", moves this week from its Edwardian building to a new site. The Belper Civic Forum believes that this provides a unique opportunity for Belper. Its an exceptionally fine public building that could provide a fantastic venue for community activities such as performing arts. Local groups have been searching for years for a suitable site and this has everything required. Its also large and attractive enough to provide commercial office and conference space that will provide income so that the community facilities can be provided at zero cost to rate payers. A number of commercial and community groups have already expressed interest in sharing the site in this way.

Unfortunately Amber Valley Borough Council does not yet share this vision, which has been promoted by the Belper Civic Forum and supported by many other people. They have taken into account the terms of the 1909 conveyance by which Herbert Strutt, then the head of the local cotton mill dynasty, gave the school to the town:

"PROVIDED ALWAYS AND IT IS HEREBY AGREED AND DECLARED that if at any future time or times the County Council its successors or assigns shall deem it requisite in connection with the making of more suitable provision under altered circumstances for Higher Elementary or Secondary Education for the Town of Belper aforesaid and the neighbourhood that the said hereditaments and premises or any part thereof should cease to be used and enjoyed as aforesaid then and in any such case the said hereditaments and premises conveyed shall be held IN TRUST for and be conveyed and assured to the Belper Urban District Council or its successors in fee simple for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of the Township of Belper aforesaid in such manner as the said Urban District Council or its successors shall from time to time determine..."

The Council appears to believe that the only way to benefit the community and comply with these terms is to sell the building and give the proceeds to the Herbert Strutt Charity. The Herbert Strutt Charity was set up in 1986, is administered by the Borough and Town Councils and all its trustees are Councillors. The Council has also stated that it aims to get the highest price possible for the site, which may mean it goes for redevelopment for housing. The Forum believes that much greater benefit will derive from its proposals to develop the building for mixed commercial and community use so that it will also provide significant employment within the town and help prevent it from degenerating into a dormitory suburb.

The Forum are collecting signatures on a petition. So if local people agree that there should be a place for community facilities in the re-development of the building then they will have the opportunity to sign it at a number of Belper shops on Saturday 1st March and in King Street on the 8th March. In addition anyone who agrees that the Council should be considering the value of proposals to the Community in a wider sense than just the selling price are urged to write or email their own Borough Councillors.

A sub-group of the Belper Civic Forum is now alerting people to this issue, a number of people have come forward to provide active support including Simon Groom, former Blue Peter TV presenter and ex-pupil of the school. They are determined to save "Strutts", one of the last remaining significant gifts made by the Strutt family to the town.

For further information please contact:
Trevor Griffin,
0845 3492 369

Notes for Editors:

For further information please see:

Belper Civic Forum

The STRUTTS Campaign Site

Herbert Strutt School

Amber Valley Borough Council, report on Herbert Strutt School Click on item 12a in the list for 31st October 2007.

Belper Town Council:
Minutes of meeting that discussed this issue.

Herbert Strutt Charity:
Tel. 01773 841635 - Amber Veley — Democratic Services.