The Residents’ Association has it’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 10th September at 7.30pm in the Centurian Walk Common Room on Old Chester Road. Do come along and hear both what we have to say, and air your own views on all things Chester Green/Little Chester.
There’s a Family Quiz Night at the Community Centre on the 14th September, which are always great fun, with rounds for all ages and abilities!
There’s also the latest updates from the flood defense works from Our City Our River (OCOR) including more details on the refurbishment of the Cricket Pavilion and the sports provision at Darley Fields 🙂
We’ve had a number of people reporting issues/crimes to us, and not to the police, recently! Even if you think the police may be too busy to respond to your issue/view, please do contact them anyway. We can’t report things 2nd hand, and the more information the Police have, the more likely they’ll commit resources to an area if needed and/or react quicker. It’s really easy to report things, these days, so:
if you see a crime in progress, report it to 999.
However, if you want to report something else (that doesn’t require an emergency response) you can:
Attached is this month’s newsletter (which should be winging its way to you any day now!) . All the usual updates and news.
The Annual Picnic on the Green was a huge success, again, and planning for this free and fun event has already started for next year! Thank you Chester Green Entertainments Team!
The OCOR project are looking to spend around £120,000 refurbishing the cricket pavilion….hooray!
The council are beginning the demolishing of the former Tomlinson building (just the back, we think, but could be the whole thing!) and the units behind the Aida/Bliss factory in order to complete the flood defences.
New plans have gone in for the Waterside/Bridge Inn (although the council seem to be opposing this development on flood risk grounds again!)
There are still major concerns that the Council still aren’t taking into account the feelings of local residents regarding the redevelopment of the Aida/Bliss factory and still haven’t commented on the petition we submitted to the council.
The now rejected plans the Council drew up for the Aida/Prestige/Union Foundry (the set of four that all had residential on the ground floor) actually had a very nice summary of the area, which I’m reproducing here! These plans were rejected as they all had dwellings on the ground floor (and family houses didn’t have gardens either!), but it was actually a nicely put together document (the photos are mine, not taken from their document!)
CONSERVATION AREA APPRAISAL “Little Chester was designated a Conservation Area in September 1991 in recognition of its historic character and townscape value. The area was incorporated into the Borough of Derby in the 1550’s but has an even older history.
The origins of Little Chester can be traced back to the period of the Roman occupation, when a settlement called Derventio was established as early as AD69-76. Considerable remains from this period have been found in the area. The remains of stone walls can be seen amongst the modern houses off Marcus Street; these mark the location of the commercial and administrative core, but the settlement itself extended well beyond this.
In the Middle Ages, Little Chester was held by the Collegiate Church of All Saints, with the seven farms in the area providing income for the Dean and six Canons. Two of these farms are still visible on Old Chester Road: Derwent House and Stone House Prebend (School Farmhouse). Both are listed, although they have been altered over the centuries.
By the late 18th century, industry began to establish itself along the river bank. This was on a small scale until the Union Foundry was established by William Peach in the late 1840’s on City Road. This was taken over and expanded by Alfred Haslam in 1865 who also built the Workers’ Recreation Rooms on St Paul’s Road. The Great Northern Railway Line was built across the area in 1876- 77 bisecting the Roman Camp area from the southern development. The river was crossed by a bridge built by the eminent local firm of Handyside and Company and such is its quality that this structure is now Grade II listed. The remainder of the housing, to the north of Chester Green Road and the east of Mansfield Road, was built between 1886 and 1900. This created a pleasing open space in the middle of Little Chester, which was laid out as a park by the Borough Council who acquired the site in 1886.”
DERBY CITY COUNCIL’S LOCAL LIST In 1993, Derby City Council published a list of locally important buildings and assets in Derby. The Aida Bliss / Former Union Foundry was included in this list.
“CITY ROAD Haslam’s Works 1865 Factory with impressive red brick facade comprising a series of double storey multi-paned cast iron arch headed windows. Arches in blue brick with stone keyblocks and sills. Blue brick banding and plinth, dentil decoration to eaves. Formed part of the larger Union Works to the south. Formerly graced by a clock tower, which was demolished in the 1960’s for the current office block. Built for Sir Alfred Haslam, this was the site of the earliest refrigeration manufactory in Great Britain.”
However, the 1993 Local List was then replaced by a 2010 revision, and the Former Union Foundry was removed from the list. The revision explains why: “It does not include locally important buildings that are located within any of the 15 conservation areas in Derby, as these buildings are afforded greater protection through the planning control process.”
It is still clear that the building is of local historic importance, due to its industrial heritage, connection to the River Derwent and former Great Northern Railway, and its location within the Little Chester Conservation Area and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.
AIDA BLISS FACTORY SITE TIMELINE
1822 – Union Iron Foundry established by Peach and Falconer 1844 – William Peach took over the Union Foundry 1858 – Fox brothers bought the site, for the manufacture of lace machinery 1865 – Site bought and expanded by Alfred Haslam for the manufacture of refrigeration equipment 1873 – Fire destroyed the foundry 1876 – Great Northern Railway Line built north of site 1877 – Iron Foundry built by Haslam on site of previous foundry, Haslam Foundry and Engineering Company ltd 1891 – Extension of foundry to north 1906 – Tin can manufacture 1939 – E.W.Bliss bought factory, hydraulic press manufacture 1996 – Site bought by Aida Bliss (Europe) Ltd for the manufacture of stamping machines for car body parts 2004 – Site closed, derelict 2004 – Miller homes applied for planning for 147 flats, 15 homes in factory, appeal 2005 – Aida Bliss became Aida Engineering Ltd 2008 – Aida Engineering applied for planning for 156 houses and flats, flood defence issues
Here’s next month’s newsletter (early, I know…..get me!) First, the bad news….the council have turned down the GNC Vehicle Car Heritage and Skills proposal for the historic Union Foundry building. If, like us, you disagree (due to the many points we’ve raised before), do sign and share this petition
Extremely sad and disappointing news that Derby Council have blocked the regeneration of the Aida Factory in its current state (The GNC Car Heritage project would have kept this locally listed buiding…..the council’s current plans knock it down…..and yes…..it was the regeneration dept. that were involved in blocking this regeneration!) . This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the site, and Little Chester/Chester Green.
From Shaun Matthews at the Great Northern Classics Car Heritage project. We wish Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire well with this excellent venture that they will now benefit from 🙁
“Union Foundry (Aida) Little Chester – Heritage Vehicle and Skills Centre
It is with great sadness that I have to report that we have arrived at the end of the road. Although we still await formal confirmation from Derby City Council, it appears we will not establish our Heritage Vehicle and Skills Centre at the Union Foundry in Chester Green unless there is an early and unexpected change of heart. We have pressed as hard as we can but minds now seem set and for the sake of the higher aims of the GNC project now is the time to draw a line under Derby.
Our proposal was enthusiastically received across the council and the wider community but was apparently stymied by a bureaucratic wormhole resulting from the source of the funds the council used to purchase the site. To overcome this we have proposed ways to design a mixed-use development (60+ homes plus our project), were prepared to fully reimburse DCC their purchase price (effectively making the flood wall land nil cost) and even offered the Council a substantial stake in our operation. Unfortunately, despite many of the officers and elected members agreeing the GNC project was the best outcome, the Council didn’t navigate around this funding issue, instead choosing to press on with housing in spite of the technical difficulties, heritage implications and local resident’s concerns. I genuinely, for the sake of the Little Chester residents wish DCC success in this endeavour.
You may recall that we started our journey nearly 2 years ago hoping to occupy the Bonded Warehouse at Friargate Goods Yard but it wasn’t feasible to bridge the funding chasm to restore. There are no other appropriate buildings in the City and therefore the Union Foundry was the only viable site for us. Consequently, with this now unavailable I can no longer see how we can open in Derby – This means that this magnificent building will be demolished bar it’s façade, we cannot look forward to the regeneration and economic benefits, save the skills or offer the opportunities to local artisans and training to the city’s youngsters. Simply we cant do that very good thing.
So, with a heavy heart, our search for a home has now moved to other East Midlands Cities. I hope that some of you can continue to be involved wherever we settle, to those who can’t or won’t make the move, I am very sorry and for your support and considerable effort I thank you on behalf of all of us at GNC, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Watch this space!
The most frustrating thing about this is that the council don’t even have any firm plans for the building. They did draw up plans for family homes (social housing), which we informed them wouldn’t be suitable as there were ground floor (and some ground floor only) dwellings. They also hadn’t put in safe egress to higher ground, which is now needed when proposing houses on a flood plain in close proximity to the flood wall…… so, after much expense, they finally listened to us and got advice from other depts. (can’t believe they didn’t do this in the first place) and scrapped the lot…..because clearly they’re rolling in cash.
Now we’re told the new plans being drawn up aren’t designing in safe egress to higher ground either (we’ve been told it will be added, retrospectively, after the plans have been drawn up by our own staff). Oh, and the council will have to self insure the buildings because insurance companies won’t insure new builds on a flood plain (as they’re not covered by the governments flood re scheme https://www.floodre.co.uk/ ), and they want to build 100% social housing, which we have lots of in Chester Green already…….
Did we also mention that two large development companies, in the past, couldn’t overcome these problems either with major objections from the environment agency, among others regarding the points made above (similar to the objections made recently about the planned conversion of the Waterside Inn up the river into flats by both the environment agency and the councils own planning dept.)……now you know why the council got the site below the going price for residential land…..because it isn’t land suitable for residential use….
So, they turned down a well formulated and presented plan, which keeps the locally listed building in a conservation area for something closer to its intended use (and doesn’t demolish it, like the residential plans will need to), adds to the local economy, trains people in a skilled profession and would sit very well between the Silk Mill museum and the world heritage site up the river, for something that is poorly thought out and could quite easily never come to fruition……. slow clap for Derby Council’s ‘regeneration’ department…….
Ahem….sorry I’m a bit late! The June newsletter will have been delivered to your house a week or so ago, but here it is again for your digital viewing pleasure.
There are a few events this month. The Community Centre has the Family Fun Night on Saturday 15th June. Bar and Tuck shop open, and a very good value family night out…..do come along 🙂
Also at the community centre is the Quiz night with the infamous Rhian as the quiz master. This is always great fun, and with many different rounds. This quiz is more suited to adults….a Family quiz night (with rounds better suited for all ages) will be in September!
There’s the residents associations update on the flood defences and the council’s Aida factory plans (did you see our chairman on BBC News yesterday?). The Car Heritage proposal is still fighting to get the council to listen to them. More news as soon as we get it via the facebook page.
The popular Picnic on the Green event is on Sunday 7th July….put it in your diaries!
All this, and more, can be found in this month’s newsletter, download below:
Here’s a copy of our latest letter to the Council regarding flood defences and the Aida factory…..
Sent to Carole Mills (Council Chief Executive) Cc’ed to Chris Poulter (Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy and Policy) Matthew Holmes (Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy and Policy) Paul Clarke (Head of Planning and Chief Planning Officer) Jonathan Smale (Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Streetpride) Martin Repton (Local Cllr) Lisa Eldret (Local Cllr) Jack Stanton (Local Cllr)
As Chair of the Little Chester Residents Association I have just become aware from OCOR, that the package 1 flood defences designed to protect Derby City are being built to a 1 in a 100 + 5% climate change allowance specification, and not to the 1 in 100 + 30% c.c.a. specification that the Environment Agency (EA) currently recommend. Defences built to the 1 in 100 + 5% spec. were over topped causing flooding in other parts of the country in 2015 eg Keswick,York. Hence the reason the EA amended the recommended specification. Please could you confirm why the decision was taken by DCC to continue to build the package 1 flood defenses to a spec that was breached in 2015?
This brings further into question,the current DCC Housing Regeneration strategy to build housing on the former Aida site on City Rd, Chester Green, which is located next to the river on low ground to the east side of the Derwent. The EA previously objected on flood risk grounds to a Miller Homes’ application to build housing on the former Aida site and it was withdrawn. The EA only withdrew their initial objections to Prime Construction’s application in 2018 to build offices on City Rd, on the east side of, and next to the Derwent, because it was for a less vulnerable non residential proposal. The EA have recently objected on flood risk grounds to an application to build housing on the nearby Waterside Inn site, also on the east side of and next to the Derwent. The EA commented in their objection to the Waterside Inn application:
“Areas behind flood defences are at particular risk from rapid onset of fast-flowing and deep water flooding, with little or no warning if defences are breached”.
“the new OCOR hydraulic modeling shows that in a 1 in 100 year event including a 30% climate change allowance, the defenses would over top and this could result in flooding of depths of up to 0.73m”.
Derby City Council objected commenting:
“As an authority, we are continually investing in schemes that remove people from flood risk. This development would do the opposite and introduce additional people to risk”.
Despite all these objections by the EA to residential development on the low ground on the east side of, and close to the river Derwent, DCC Housing Regeneration officers still maintain they can design a scheme which the EA will approve as safe for residents and emergency services.They cite EA approval to applications for sites on higher ground on the west side of the Derwent as evidence, but those sites have safe egress/access routes to higher ground which is not the case for the Aida site.
Housing Regeneration officers say they will only be able to obtain a judgement from the EA on flood risk once they have designed and submitted a detailed planning application.The initial proposals officers instructed architects to design for the Aida site did not address either safe egress/access or prohibition of ground floor habitation so were a waste of time and money.By the time detailed proposals are finalised by DCC, Great Northern Classics who have submitted an alternative proposal for a less vulnerable non residential Heritage Vehicle Training Centre, will have reluctantly been forced to take their scheme to an alternative site outside of Derbyshire.(though if a prompt decision were to be made their proposal may not be lost)
If as looks highly likely, the EA were to maintain an objection to housing development on the Aida site which is in Flood Risk Zone 3a, DCC would have to appeal to the Secretary of State.
Due to the serious nature of the concerns please could you confirm: Why the decision was taken by DCC to continue to build the package 1 flood defences to a specification that was breached in 2015?. Whether and why you support housing development on the former Aida site, when this will introduce additional residents and emergency services to flood risk and danger?. Whether you share our concerns that if housing development on the former Aida site were to be prohibited and DCC having rejected GNC proposals for a less vulnerable non residential Heritage Vehicle Training scheme, that this site with its many constraints, is unlikely to be developed and likely to remain derelict in the future at great cost to DCC?. In light of the recent A52/Wyvern scheme issues, where incorrect council officer advice has proven to be extremely costly and the Grenfell Tower case, where a local authority’s planning approval of unsafe development resulted in fatalities and put emergency services at risk,I would ask that you urgently review both of DCC’s decisions to reject GNC’s non residential proposal and to continue to progress an unsafe housing scheme on the former Aida site.
Due to the urgency and serious nature of the concerns I look forward to your response.
Andrew Meehan Little Chester Residents Association”
Today, we received an open letter from a resident of Chester Green. They asked if we could share it, so here it is! These views do not, necessarily, match those of the residents association (we’re not sure why the Council is targeting the best looking shop frontage in Chester Green!), but if we all agreed on everything, the world would be a less interesting place. It’s difficult to disagree with the points raised, though…..
“There has been a lot of comment about the shutters on Robert Ashley Barbers, and whether they should be allowed to be retained.
I appreciate that this is a very difficult and emotive issue, and I would like to state immediately that I think that visually the shutters look perfectly acceptable.
However, the matter is a lot more complicated and important than the appearance of one shop.
Chester Green is a conservation area. The vast majority of the community of Chester Green support this, and are pleased to live in this pleasant area full of character. A conservation area requires all of us to ensure that any alterations to our property conform to rules regarding materials and design, and any changes to the property fronting the road have to be approved by the planning department of Derby City Council and the Conservation Area Advisory Committee. In 2009 the Little Chester Residents Association helped the Council to publish guidelines for residents and businesses within conservation areas, and these are freely available on the Council website.
The shutters on Robert Ashley’s were installed without planning permission, and were installed after they were warned that they would be in breach of planning regulations. A number of other businesses have installed shutters without permission, some of which are significantly less attractive. If Robert Ashley is allowed to keep his, how will the Council then be able to enforce removal of the other offenders? It cannot. If the Council cannot enforce compliance of the planning rules in this case, how can it ensure that the character of the area is retained at all?
As I said at the beginning , this is a very difficult matter, but I believe that the core issue is whether we want to retain the character of Chester Green or whether the concept of a conservation area should be completely abandoned.
Apologies for the delay, but if you’ve been following our facebook page, you’ll have seen plenty of updates regarding the Heritage Car proposal for the Aida factory site. The council have turned down the proposal, with no details officially given as yet. We’re still in contact with local councillors, the car heritage company, and councillors and we haven’t given up yet! More as we get it….
Lots more in the newsletter, too, including a family quiz night at the Community Centre (26th April), a free coffee morning at the community centre (10th and 24th April), more on the Fashion Show in May, and lots of other information!