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STRUTTS - What the press says

Derbyshire Evening Telegraph - Thursday 30th October 2008

The original article at thisisderbyshire.

AN historic school building that has stood unused since February is set to be saved for the community.

Plans have been put forward to turn the former Herbert Strutt Primary School building, in Belper, into a thriving community centre, which would be home to sports, dance and performing arts groups.

The Derby Road building, which had been a school for nearly 100 years, closed its doors because it needed repairs estimated at 1.5m.

Staff and pupils instead moved to a new 3.7m school in Bargate Road, leaving the grade II-listed building empty.

But campaigners were determined to save it for the community, with 1,800 people signing a petition to stop it from being turned into flats.

The new scheme would see Belper Civic Forum take over the Derbyshire County Council-owned building, which is leased to Amber Valley Borough Council, and run it on a non-profit basis.

Trevor Griffin, chairman of the Strutt School sub-group of Belper Civic Forum, was delighted the future of the buildings could be secured.

He said: "We are very pleased and it will be a step to realising some of the ideas and dreams that the people in Belper have had for better community facilities.

"The problem for community groups in the past is that we have outgrown the space available but with extra space those groups can grow.

"We have had lots of support from members of the public and many people have told us their wishes for the building."

Mr Griffin, who handed the petition to Amber Valley Borough Council in April, said Belper Civic Forum needed to involve the public in the plans.

He said: "We will need a lot of help from people in the community and we are quite confident that will happen."

If the proposals get the go-ahead, the Civic Forum will draw up more detailed plans for how the school would be developed into the centre, which would include space for small businesses. A charitable trust would then be set up to take over the running of the site from the Civic Forum.

The trust would then apply for grants to finance the project, with cash available from English Heritage and the Big Lottery Fund.

Councillor John Williams, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said his authority had been working closely with Amber Valley council to find a suitable use for the building.

He said: "We have carefully considered the available options so we can safeguard the future of the buildings and make sure they continue to have a role in the community."

Janet Honey, chairwoman of Belper Civic Forum, said the proposals were the result of months of hard work.

She said: "The school is a much loved and valued building and is a wonderful asset for the town. Hopefully, it is now safe for the next 100 years."

The scheme is set to be given the go-ahead at a meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council on Wednesday.

Belper News — 12th March 2008

Former Blue Peter star backs Strutts campaign

The fight to safeguard the future of the Herbert Strutt School building has been backed by former Blue Peter presenter and ex-pupil Simon Groom.

Read the article on the Belper News website


Belper Trader — 29th February 2008

With our thanks to Trader for allowing us to repubish the full text.


by Amy Watkins

TWO well known ex-pupils have joined in the fight to save the Herbert Strutt school building from developers. Former Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom and Roger Faulkner, who recently played a major part in the 50 million American takeover of Derby County, have both added their support to the Strutt School Group of the Belper Civic Forum.

The group was set up by Belper residents who were concerned that the building would be sold off to developers and turned into flats. Members will take to the streets of Belper tomorrow (Saturday) from 9am-4pm to begin a petition to make sure this doesn‘t happen. They would like the building to be used as a community facility which could be used by anyone.

Simon Groom, who now lives near Matlock, was contacted by one of the members after meeting him at the farewell concert held at the school last month. He is now a member of the group, working to make sure the building is kept for the community.

He said: "I do feel very strongly about what happens to Herbert Strutt School. It is part of our heritage and it‘s a beautiful building."

Speaking to the Bugle last week, Roger Faulkner also said he would be happy to support the group‘s efforts.

Inside page two

THE fight is on to save the old Herbert Strutt School building from developers.

At the moment the old school building‘s future is uncertain. It is currently being held in a trust, which was set up in 1909 when the school was handed over to the people of Belper by George Herbert Strutt, and is leased to Derbyshire County Council.

Now that the school has moved out of the building, it will be handed to Amber Valley Borough Council, who will then carry out a feasibility study into its potential uses.

The original conveyance, dated May 7 1909, states the building is to be used as a school, adding that if at any time the county council deemed it necessary to find more suitable accommodation for the school, the building "shall be held in trust...for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of the Township of Belper."

Members of The Strutt School Group have taken this to mean that the building should become a community centre and formed the group to make sure this happens. As well as being used for local groups, a few of the ideas of how the building could be put to good use include recording studios which schools could use and commercial units for start up businesses. The group is currently working out a business plan to hand into Amber Valley Borough Council before the feasibility study is completed on March 31.

Chair of the group, Trevor Griffin, who also chairs Belper Civic Forum, said: "We believe this is a one off opportunity to make a really good quality community facility for Belper where there is a crying need for one.

"We think that Amber Valley Borough Council really need to consider in a wider sense the benefits to the town that they could achieve by working with us in this project."

"Herbert Strutt gave a lot of things to the town, this is one of the largest of those gifts and it would be very sad if the building was now lost."

He added that out of about 10 groups that have been approached so far, only one said that although they would support the building, they would not need to use it.

Former Strutt pupil Simon Groom told the Bugle this week: "Even though I now live just outside Matlock, emotionally I am much closer to Belper and that‘s because of Herbert Strutt. I remember sometimes having to walk a mile to the bus stop and I would then have two bus journeys but it was worth it to go to such a good school.

"I also remember doing arduous cross country runs up the Chevin and seeing Timothy Dalton (former James Bond actor) when I joined as a first former in 1961."

"I really feel it would be more appropriate for the building to be used for the community rather than residential use. We‘ve got all those new homes adjacent to Strutts and I think the general feeling is that there is plenty here already."

"It seems that local people are just as worried about the future of the building as they are about the new Tesco site. I‘ve been very impressed by the action group and their commitment to the building‘s future," he added.

A spokesperson for the borough council said: "At this stage it is too early to speculate on the future use of the building; more information will be available once the feasibility study is complete. Belper Civic Forum has provided us with a specification of the issues they would like addressed in the feasibility study. We sent this out, alongside our own specification, to the consultants that have been invited to bid for the work."

The group will take to the streets of Belper tomorrow (Saturday) from 9am-4pm to begin their petition.


PIC CAPS: Prepared for a fight: Chair of Belper Civic Forum Strutt School Group Trevor Griffin (front) with some of the members of the group in front of the building they are trying to save from developers. (ref: EG230208STRUTT-1)

URSULA Storer from Strutt School Group of Belper Civic Forum is pictured getting Geoff Riley to sign the group‘s petition to save the old school building.

She was just one of the members collecting signatures in Belper town centre. Altogether the group now have over 1,400 signatures, with more still to come. An online petition will also be put up shortly.

The building was left empty when Herbert Strutt School moved to its new premises last month.

The group was set up amid fears that it will be bought by developers. Members would like to see it being used for the community instead.

For more updates, visit http://www.belpercivicforum.org.

(ref: EG010308STRUTT-1)