A major milestone in the Ashbourne Reborn programme was reached on Tuesday, with Derbyshire County Council’s application for improvements to the Market Place and Victoria Square being approved unanimously by planners.
Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Planning Committee voted in support of the Listed Building application, which means work at the two town centre locations can start next year.
Tuesday’s meeting heard that the listing of surfaces is rare. Their protection is based on their age, extent, material, and their contribution to the character and appearance of the town. The proposals recognise their importance and significance, making it clear they will be protected.
The Market Place and Victoria Square plans form part of the highways and public realm project within the Ashbourne Reborn Programme, of which the County Council are the lead delivery partner.
The Grade II listed surfaces in these areas, which date back to the 18th century or early 19th century, will be repaired and upgraded, including replacing the areas of tarmac in the Market Place with limestone setts to match existing and local character.
Work on the highways and public realm project is anticipated to start in May 2024, and be completed by summer 2025.
As part of this work, existing street furniture will also be replaced and upgraded, and lighting is being reviewed for potential improvements.
A small number of short stay parking bays are included within the design on the southeast corner, including a disabled bay, and along the eastern edge of the Market Place, with additional on-street parking proposed close-by.
Trees will also be planted, selected for their low impact root systems and the ability to absorb pollutants in the air, to add much needed greenery to the Market Place.
Speaking after the meeting, District Councillor David Hughes, who is chair of the Ashbourne Reborn Programme Board, said:
"I am delighted the programme is moving forward and I believe the improvements to the Market Place and Victoria Square will enhance the town.
"With any undertaking of this nature, there is always a long lead in time to plan and design the work thoroughly. We want the improvements to be high quality and long-lasting - and this is a great start."
The County Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Simon Spencer said:
“I'm delighted that the planning application has been approved. It marks another step in our journey to transform the middle of Ashbourne”.
In January this year central government approved a Levelling Up Fund (LUF) bid designed to transform the town centre. LUF is contributing £13.4m and the total programme will cost £15.2m.
The bid was developed through close working with local partners who brought forward project ideas, identified opportunities and raised match-funding for the bid. The partners include Derbyshire Dales District Council, Derbyshire County Council, Ashbourne Town Team, Ashbourne Town Council, AshCom and Ashbourne Methodist Church.
The Planning Committee meeting on 14 November can be viewed below:
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