We are delighted to be able inform you that Belper has been crowned as the Winner of the Market Town category of the Great British High Street and also the Winner of Winners in this year’s competition.
Winner – Belper, Derbyshire
- Belper is blessed with a wonderful history as a World Heritage Site but has much to offer as a thriving market town as well. The judges felt that this outstanding application demonstrates how much more can be done to transform an outwardly successful town centre into a go-to destination for locals and visitors alike.
- The majority of ideas and innovations pouring from Belper Vision have been taken forward by volunteers and it is the scale of the involvement and collaboration from the community that the judges found as impressive as the solutions they are delivering. These include working with a public transport operator to provide branded buses on routes via Belper and replanting the old Railway Station as well as delivering a youth market, pop up shop and community space. Success is demonstrated by the widening programme of events, and declining vacancy rate.
- The judges felt that the Belper Ambassadors scheme encapsulates all that impresses about Belper with wide take up and the willingness of over 80 local individuals, predominantly retailers, to be trained as ambassadors and help ensure that locals and visitors alike know all Belper has to offer
Great British High Street 2014 Belper – Great Hospitality and a True High Street Experience
Belper Ambassadors – We’re Visitor Friendly: A retailers training scheme to improve awareness of the elements of the town centre and knowledge of the range of shops across the town. Retailers are provided with a free tour, information and branded signage to invite queries from members of the public to enhance their visit. 83 Ambassadors in 40 organisations have been trained. A by-product of the scheme is a much better awareness, relationship and collaboration between businesses that then go on to support each other, purchase locally improving the supplier chain and promote each other.
Business to business mentoring has encouraged developments and retailer improvements and some Social Media training has been delivered via the EBiz club. Digital High Street Training will be coming to the town shortly to encourage the use of the Internet and develop website coverage to generate enquiries and footfall to independent town centre businesses.
Accredited Farmers Market: Taking place on the Second Saturday of each month, the thriving monthly Farmers Market attracts a wide audience to the town centre who continue to shop in the High Street. With over 30 covered stalls selling local produce and goods, the market is regularly full, with a waiting list for space.
Town Centre Car parking: Free Parking is available on the Coppice Car Park and Derwent Street. Additional Shopper schemes and retailer car parking is available and further pay and display car parks are in operation. Amber Valley residents can apply for a Car Parking permit to enjoy free car parking after 4pm and all day Sunday supporting the night time and seven day economy. Coach parking is available along with Group Operator information for tour operators/visitors.
Town Centre Infrastructure: The town boasts a Bus Station and Railway Station in the heart of the Town Centre. Planters, Bins, Benches and Signposts are well maintained by working together and some are supported by sponsorship. A Community Toilet Scheme is in place to allow the public to use toilets in specifics shops around the town.
Belper Railway Station: Adoption of four green spaces at Belper Station by Transition Belper in April 2012 has transformed station and improved the gateway to the town. Promotional campaigns and leaflets in conjunction with East Midlands Trains Derwent Valley Line encourage visitors to the town via public transport. Usage of the Belper Station increased by 9% last year.
TrentBarton Bus Company have branded specific buses on the Sixes & Sevens route via Belper with Belper promotion encouraging visitors to the town for both the shopping, café culture and evening visits to the award winning independent Ritz Cinema.
Business Sponsorship: The businesses support the town centre activities by sponsoring hanging baskets and floral display, Christmas Tree Sponsors, Traffic Island sponsors and smaller initiatives such as providing the electricity for the food festival stalls from the local shops.Visitor Information Point: A Visitor Information Centre is provided in the nationally accredited Strutts North Mill Museum and Derwent Valley Visitor Centre. Due to the linear style of the town, additional facilities have been established in the town centre at De Bradelei stores, with space donated free of charge. This provides central, seven day per week visitor information provision and allows events and retailers promotion.
Totally Locally Belper: Retailers across the town have come together to deliver Totally Locally Belper and to support independent retailers. The Fiver Fest was held, and a Totally Locally Map had been produced showcasing 35 participants. The scheme has now grown with 57 businesses on the participation list.
Indie Day: National campaigns are highlighted to encourage people to shop locally and support their local retailers. Belper businesses participated and extended the Independents Day for the month of July with shopper offers and encompassing the Belper Food Festival.
Belper Visitor Guide: A promotional guide has been produced by the partnership to encourage visitors to visit the town and to make their most of their experience. The leaflet includes a Town Centre Map along with descriptions of the areas of the towns and descriptions of the shops in those areas. Designed to encourage visitors to visit all areas of the town and extend their stay into the evening the leaflets also includes a range of events and attractions. The leaflet is distributed widely via the tourism networks across the county of Derbyshire. A selection of Belper retailers are also listed on the Peak Explorer tourism app, to encourage visits and highlight the range of shops.
Social media, Short Films and You Tube videos have been produced to capture the vibrancy of the town centre and encourage visitors to see what they have been missing.
Additional Belper publications include the Belper Town Guide, produced by the Town Council and issued to all households and further afield.
Events Programme: A large number of events takes place throughout the year and the groups are working together to cross promote each other and encourage return visits. The Belper Town Council Newsletter includes a Celebrating Belper events diary and websites also carry content. The A3 Calendar of Events is produced quarterly and distributed to every house in Belper.
Some of the major events include;
Belper Food, Real Ale, Craft Festival: The festival helps attract thousands of visitors to the town and gives local producers a unique opportunity to promote their wares directly to the public. The festival includes music and dance performances, and includes a craft festival and classic car show. Located on the Market Place, King Street, Memorial Gardens, Campbell Street and Strutt Street the town centre is alive with people. Entrance is free and suitable for all ages.
The Belper Arts Trail and Well Dressing Trail encourages visitors to move to all parts of the town. Over 60 artists have showcased in over 30 assorted venues including shops and businesses in the town. The well dressing is a unique Derbyshire custom depicting pictures compiled from floral and natural elements to create beautiful pictures traditionally used to give thanks and bless water.
The Food Festival has become so successful that a Christmas Festival is also held annually, in addition to the Christmas Light Switch On (with late night shopping event) and Christmas Eve Carol Service held annually in December.
Belper Arts Festival: The arts festival is a month long Festival held in April-May and includes Theatre, Art, Literature, Music, Dance, Film, Comedy and Photography. http://www.belperartsfestival.org
The events are held in venues across the town including community spaces, cafes, restaurants, shops, parks, and in the street and include performances and events which are free to attend or pay what you think to make accessible to all. The 2014 event has attracted 14,000 visitors to the town to contribute to the day time and evening economy.
Cherry Orchard Gallery was established as a pop up shop and Festival Office and operated in the town for over twelve months. Other empty shop windows have been used to promote events within the town.
Derbyshire First Youth Market: The Youth Market, delivered in partnership with the university offered the opportunity for young entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and goods, drawing a younger demographic to the town centre and supporting their development.
Belper Goes Green: A festival showcasing sustainability, climate change and eco stalls and lots of entertainment brought new visitors to the town centre and high street.
Open Gardens: Visitors follow a trail of more than 20 open gardens, giving a unique opportunity to see the hidden garden gems of historic Belper. The trail follows a variety of private gardens, public parks and award winning eateries.
Belper Open Houses: In 2014 30 venues were open from 24 to 26 May and included 50 artists and makers bringing visitors to the town.
DVMWHS Discovery Days Festival: An annual events programme to promote the World Heritage Site including Belper. Discovery Walks held in May/June and Discovery Days held in October, details can be found on www.derwentvalleymills.org
Britain in Bloom competition: Belper has won gold in the East Midlands in Bloom Large Town category for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. The town holds year round activities to make the town look attractive with seasonal planting, sponsored litter bins and planters, Green Flag Parks and community projects such as Belper Open Gardens. The Memorial Gardens is a town centre green space which encourages an open feel to the High Street and welcome’s people to take a break. The gardens are the venue for a host of events generating footfall for the town centre businesses
No.28: New community facility for the town at No.28 Market Place with exhibition space and Community Café on market days.
Strutts Centre: Volunteer run community facility, former grammar school, with rooms that can be hired for kinds of events and activities. Holds social and community activities, businesses can hire rooms to present exhibitions, hold meetings and host performances generating visitors to the High Street.
Evening and Seven Day Economy: The Town Centre offers a range of cafes and eateries who stay open from the day to evening and are encouraging people to remain in the town centre beyond the traditional hours. Some establishments offer pre theatre style dining for the award winning Independent Ritz Cinema. Retailers and Cafes are encouraged to remain open on Sundays and Bank Holidays to meet the town centre demand, especially when events are held.
Retail Guide: A compilation list of Belper Town Centre Businesses is currently being compiled to list all retail businesses including opening times and contact details. The Town hosts a number of retailers who have been in the town for generations including Colledge’s Furniture Shop and Frearson Jewellers.
Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI): Transformed a number of shop fronts in the town including the Ritz Cinema and Colledge’s Furniture Shop. There is currently a Conservation Area Grant Scheme in place to continue sympathetic reinstatement and restoration works, and recently the former Belper Grammar School in Chapel Street has been refurbished to provide the headquarters for a local car fleet business. The THI and World Heritage status significantly increased awareness of the town’s heritage amongst businesses and residents, and a greater pride in the buildings and environment.
World War One Commemorations: The approach of the centenary of the outbreak of war encouraged historians in the town to research the 275 killed in the war. A wide range of groups, who hadn’t previously worked together, raised funding for a website to make that information publically available (www.belperinwartime.org) and the recreation of the temporary war memorial which stood in Belper Market Place 1919-1921, for an open air service. A field was also planted in poppies, spelling out ‘WWI’ on the hillside overlooking the town.
Neighbourhood Plan: Working to shape the Neighbourhood Plan and encourage sustainable high street development via planning and strategic representation to make the best use of land currently in the ownership of a supermarket. The supermarket chain has decided that they will not be opening a site in the town centre and are due to release the land in the future.
Periodic Vacancy Rates and a snap shot of town centre footfall are monitored to allow to health of the High Street to be monitored and to address specific issued as they arise.