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Improvements approved for key Matlock regeneration site

Derbyshire Dales District Council is pressing ahead with improvements to the former market hall site in Matlock's, despite the authority’s long-term vision being put on hold due to the volatile construction market.

For a number of years the council has been driving forward a key town centre regeneration project to enhance the street scene along Bakewell Road, improve public transport waiting areas, and convert the former market hall into a two-screen cinema and new food and beverage/retail unit.

But at a full meeting of the District Council recently it was confirmed that two invitations to procure a main contractor and value engineering of the scheme design had not brought acceptable or affordable tenders, illustrating the significant challenge of delivering the proposed scheme in the current inflation-impacted construction market.

To give the construction market situation more time to improve while still utilising a 2023/24 UK Shared Prosperity Fund government grant, the meeting approved an initial revamp of the site worked up in consultation with ward Members and Leaders of the council's Progressive Alliance administration. This will deliver a first phase of improvements to the bus station and taxi waiting area. Public realm improvements to the area surrounding the bus station are also proposed, including new trees, new planters, new seating and new cycle parking

The District Council's Regeneration & Place Manager Giles Dann explained that the initial phase one works package aims to improve the entrance to the high street, utilise currently redundant space and improve the area for waiting bus passengers and taxi users without prejudicing any future re-development of the site.

Improvements will feature external works to the building including glazed window openings and external lighting, internal works to the bus station area including new seating, passenger information and lighting and a new bus layby.

All councillors bar two voted in favour of the new phase one scheme, and Council Leader Councillor Steve Flitter said: "I don't think anyone could have worked harder than Giles and fellow officers who have been working on this for years. The officers are just as frustrated as we are that we can't get this off the ground.

"We want to move forward in 18 months' time. We want to have a cinema in Matlock if that is possible and, if not, at that time we will make another decision. At this present time we want to keep the cinema operator on board. We want things to improve. While this has all been going on, the cost of materials, the cost of labour, all those contractual costs rose so significantly. There are no promises but we have got to look at this and we've got to prepare.

"We have a shovel-ready scheme here. It's been well worked through on every angle."

Speaking about the planned improvements to the bus and taxi waiting area, Councillor Flitter added: "People talk about Matlock benefiting from this scheme. It isn't just Matlock. It's a public transport safety issue and everyone from Bakewell, from Ashbourne, from Wirksworth and in the villages and further afield comes to Matlock and what they want to have is a safe journey home. We're trying to do our best in Matlock to give Matlock residents, Derbyshire Dales residents and visitors the opportunity to wait for public transport in an open, safe environment and that's the whole emphasis of this scheme."

The meeting heard that this first phase of development is capable of being delivered within existing statutory consents and, subject to procurement, work can start in early 2024


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