District Council gives economic recovery a head start

Derbyshire Dales District Council has given the green light to move ahead with the next stage of work to enable development of a new cinema in Matlock in its under-utilised market hall, firing the starting gun in the Council’s fightback against the economic impact of Covid-19

At an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday councillors voted in favour of bringing forward plans for the new indoor leisure attraction for Matlock and also for enclosure of part of the covered bus bay area as a food & beverage unit – to support the project's viability. 

An experienced cinema operator partner will help take the project forward and the two screens will have capacities of 89 and 67 seats. The Council is also working with Derbyshire County Council to bring forward improved provision for buses and bus passengers on part of the site.

The scheme is subject to further negotiation with key parties, planning approval and agreement of terms.

Public consultation on a draft development brief for the site revealed that the majority of respondents felt the innovative project would improve the experience of town centre users and encourage people to spend more time there. Thanks to a planned investment of more than £800,000 from the Council, a new improved gateway to Matlock town centre could be in place by the end of 2021.

Council Leader Councillor Garry Purdy said: “The Council believes this is exactly the right time to be doing this. Investing in Matlock’s regeneration now means the cinema will be open in a year’s time, when the post-Covid leisure market will be ready to grow. By putting in its own money, and doing so during the pandemic, the District Council is sending a strong signal in support.”

Wednesday's meeting was told that a survey conducted at three of the proposed cinema operator’s existing sites found that 76% of users travelled five miles or less to visit and that 71% visited the cinema at least once a month. This indicated that small independent cinemas tended to have a very local market.

Additionally, the meeting heard, the District Council was also committing to continue to work with local voluntary group Matlock Community Vision towards further development of the site for community uses - subject to separate fundraising.

Approval of the Matlock regeneration project comes a week after the District Council agreed the Economic Recovery Plan for the Derbyshire Dales. This comprehensive vision for the Dales economy will steer investment in the district, of which the Bakewell Road regeneration in Matlock is just the start of the post-lockdown revival. Developing sites for business and housing is at the heart of boosting recovery in the Derbyshire Dales. This aim will guide the new Local Plan for land development, which the District Council will need to adopt by 2023.

The Economic Recovery Plan aims to grow small manufacturing and green engineering firms to help lift local employees into higher wage, higher skilled jobs. Clean growth fits with the Council’s climate change agenda. The District Council also approved a Rural Economy Position Statement, which sets out the Council’s stance when engaging with other councils, the National Park Authority, Local Enterprise Partnership and Government.

Starting the Economic Recovery Plan and the go-ahead for Matlock’s Bakewell Road regeneration comes hard on the heels of work getting underway at the district’s Ashbourne Airfield development site. 

Ashbourne Airfield is the biggest employment and housing development site in the Derbyshire Dales, and getting building started there has been a long-standing priority of the District Council.  Work has now begun on this multi-million pound scheme to unlock land for employment and housing development in Ashbourne. A new roundabout on the A52 is under construction, and a road to serve the proposed new Ashbourne Business Park and future housing development will follow next year.

Steve Capes, the District Council's Director of Regeneration & Policy, said: "These two regeneration projects in Matlock and Ashbourne are hugely significant for the Derbyshire Dales and will be a key to renewed economic prosperity after COVID.  Derbyshire Dales District Council is excited to be leading the revival of our district.”

The full report to Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting is available to read at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/committee.


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