April 2020 Newsletter

In this month’s newsletter there are lots of positives to be aware of. We can’t print and deliver it, of course, so please share this with everyone you know via phones/whatsapp or any other messaging service you have your neighbours on! THE FLOOD DEFENCES ARE FINISHED…..hooray…..we’re watertight, and there are some lovely window display and other ideas for the area, along with a community VE day well dressing celebration in the pipeline, which should work even if we’re all still in lock down!

IMPORTANT : There’s now a Derby Covid Community Response Hub where volunteers, and those who need help can contact DerbyDirect on 01332 640000 The line will open between 9.30am and 4.00pm, Monday to Friday. There’s also a dedicated email address that can be contacted; covidsupport@communityactionderby.org.uk
More details can be found at https://news.derby.gov.uk/derby-covid-community-response-hub-launched/

Please stay safe, fellow Chester Greenies and do keep in touch with your neighbours and friends using all the remote methods available to you!

March 2020 Newsletter

This month there’s new details on the Aida/Bliss redevelopment. There are still many challenges to overcome to enable residential development so close to the flood defences and incorporating the iconic factory building on what has always been an industrial site. The council have announced a website in order to keep us up to date with their proposed Aida/Bliss factory redevelopment. Details can be found at http://www.derby.gov.uk/aidabliss

Details on the final finishing off of the flood defences in Chester Green are also included (nearly finished….hooray!) and we’re keeping a close eye on these finishing touches!

Despite objections from local residents, Darley Ward Councillors, Emergency Planning officers and Council Drainage officers, the City Council’s Planning case officer recommended for approval the application by Honeypot Investments to convert the historic former Bridge Inn into four apartments plus ground floor offices.  This was particularly worrying given the council’s own Highway’s Land Drainage officer who objected strongly:
“…a building of this age in close proximity to the flood defences should not be used for residential use at all as we are still of the opinion that the development is inherently unsafe in flood risk terms. The building should only receive planning permission for less vulnerable uses.” The full planning committee report can be found here.

All this, and more can be found in the newsletter linked below:

December Newsletter and XMas Window Trail!

It’s nearly December, the poppies are down, we survived the great floods of 2019 with excellent filling of the holes in our new flood defences by NMCN (due to be watertight/complete in December!) and we’re gearing up for a festive Chester Green with the Chester Green Window Trail, the Camp Street Illuminations, and the Chester Green Tree Lights……word on the street is that it might be on both sides of the Green this year……!

Below are the newsletters (Novembers too, as I forgot to put it online last month!) and the Chester Green XMas Window Trail map and competition form. These will be posted to everyone soon, but you saw it here first. Do share to non-Chester Greenies so they can take part too! Ho Ho Ho!

October 2019 Newsletter

Attached is the October newsletter which you’ll either have, or will be getting in paper copy very soon!

Lots of announcements regarding speed calming, metal detecting and events!

This month is the popular Halloween Disco at the Community Centre, Chester Green. This is a always a great night, and spooky fun for all the family!

The Lampost Poppy Appeal is still running, so if you’d like to donate towards the poppies soon to be installed around Little Chester, do get in touch!

There are details on the newly formed Chester Green Wildlife Group, hoping to help promote biodiversity in our riverside and open spaces.

And there’s also details on how to get involved in this year’s XMas Window Trail!

September 2019 Newsletter

Linked below is the September newsletter.

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:
  • Dial 101 (non-emergency number)
  • Message the facebook page : www.facebook.com/derbyshireconstabulary/
  • Give information anonymously at crimestoppers-uk.org/ 0800 555 111

Reporting all crimes/suspicious activity really helps!

As always, there more details and more responsive chatter on our Facebook page, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/LittleChesterResidentsAssociation/ so do head on over (or comment on this page) if you have any feedback!

August Newsletter 2019

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.

More details and news attached below!

Little Chester/Chester Green Conservation Area Summary

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!)

“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.”

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.

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.


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

The council’s own conservation area documents be can be found at: https://www.derby.gov.uk/media/derbycitycouncil/contentassets/documents/conservationareas/DerbyCityCouncil-LittleChesterConservationArea.pdf

The council’s design guide for the Little Chester Conservation Area (and Strutts Park) can be found at: https://www.derby.gov.uk/media/derbycitycouncil/contentassets/documents/leisure/DerbyCityCouncil-LCSP-Conservation-guide-February-2014.pdf

Other interesting links:





July 2019 Newsletter

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


Here’s the newsletter. New editor for the foreseeable, but hopefully no change in the useful and timely local content!

Highlight this month will be the 3rd Picnic on the Green event (Sunday 9th July!)

Council Turn Down Heritage Vehicle and Skills Centre in Chester Green

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

Dear All

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!

Yours Sincerely

Shaun Matthews”

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.

No photo description available.

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…….