£20 million bid to regenerate Derbyshire town where shop units have stood empty for decades

Millions of pounds could be spent on improvements to a Derbyshire town, where there are shop units which have been vacant for several decades.

Monday, 4th July 2022, 9:05 am
Updated Monday, 4th July 2022, 9:05 am

Erewash Borough Council is about to submit a bid to central Government’s Levelling Up Fund for £20 million for a swathe of regeneration plans in Ilkeston town centre.

This comes just over a year after the borough council secured a successful bid for £25 million through the Government’s Town Deal fund for improvements in Long Eaton.

On July 5, the council’s executive team of councillors are set to approve the Ilkeston bid, which includes plans to renovate the former Ritz cinema and bingo hall in South Street.

Long term plans have been drawn up to reopen the Grade listed building which was home to the former Ritz Bingo Hall.

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The bid also aims to renovate a number of long-term vacant shop units in Bath Street, which the authority claims is having a “negative effect on the vitality and viability of the high street”.

A third project in the bid is to replace ageing paving and “street furniture” in the town centre and potentially install a “animated lighting or projection” scheme in Market Place along with a new free town centre wi-fi system.

The council says the Grade-II listed Ritz building has been vacant for three years and is “deteriorating” and that the cost of refurbishment outweighs its potential value to businesses.

It claims that without a “public subsidy” “the property will continue to deteriorate and have a negative effect on the adjacent high street”.

The authority aims to buy the building, fully refurbish it and let it back out to a “food court, market hall or entertainment venue operator”.

In May, the owner of the Ritz building submitted plans to the borough council to turn the venue into a pub, ideally run by Wetherspoon, in a bid to stop “wanton vandalism” from “hooligans”.

It said in planning reports that the first phase of the scheme was to develop three shop units on the ground floor, the rent from which would fund phase two, a large fourth unit to be used as a “drinking establishment”.

Documents prepared for next week’s meeting say that 10 properties in Bath Street have been vacant from four to 23 years.

It details that 142 Bath Street has been vacant for 23 years, followed by the former Wigfalls unit at 110 to 112 Bath Street which has been derelict for 19 years, the former Belle Vue unit at 151 Bath Street for 14 years, 123 Bath Street for 10 years, the former Chamunda News unit at 52 Bath Street for eight years and former Argos at 12 to 14 Bath Street for seven years.

The council says the 10 shop units are not in a suitable condition to be re-let and are part of the 12 per cent vacant shops in Ilkeston.

It says it may have to compulsory purchase some of the shops but will be aiming to buy the leaseholds for the 10 buildings and pay a development company to refurbish them.

Councillor Bryn Lewis, the borough council’s lead member for town centres, said: “We have put together a high quality bid thanks to the input of local residents whose valuable contributions and suggestions were paramount in helping us shape the proposals.

“This is a great opportunity that offers the prospect of making a real difference.”