A fixture in Ashbourne town centre for more than 50 years was demolished on Monday in the first phase of the Millennium Square’s redevelopment as part of the Ashbourne Reborn programme.
A dilapidated shelter, originally built as a “rest room” for elderly people, will make way for new soft landscaping and stepped seating, providing a shared external community space.
While the overall programme includes a number of partners, including the District and County Councils and Ashbourne Town Team, this part of the public realm project – which has been in the pipeline since 2019 - is being led by Ashbourne Town Council, who have organised the demolition works.
At the start of this year central government approved a Levelling Up Fund (LUF) bid designed to transform Ashbourne town centre. LUF is contributing £13.4m and the total programme will cost £15.2m.
Ashbourne Reborn aims to reduce the dominance of traffic in the town by redesigning carriageways and increasing the space and quality of pedestrian routes and areas surrounding them.
Station Road, Church Street, St John Street West/East, Buxton Road and Dig Street are all proposed for highways improvements. In addition, Shrovetide Walk (brought forward by AshCom) and three distinct squares - the Market Place, Millennium Square and Victoria Square - will see improvements.
The development of Ashbourne Methodist Church into a multi-purpose community hub forms the other important part of the programme. The application for full planning permission and listed building consent for the Link Community Hub has also now been submitted to the District Council - a further key programme milestone.
History of the shelter
- The area where the shelter - known as the Elderly Persons' Rest Room - stood was originally a rockery and bench area.
- This was removed in 1965 when the current brick walling and benches were erected with a plaque to commemorate ex-servicemen.
- The Elderly Persons' Rest Room was funded in 1971 by the Rotary Club of Ashbourne and the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service as a seated and warm room for elderly people to sit and chat.
- The Rest Room was assigned to Ashbourne Town Council in August 2002.
- In June 2021 Ashbourne Town Council commissioned Guy Taylor Associates to prepare on options appraisal and Members agreed to a landscaping development strategy to remove existing walls and replace with soft landscaping and stepped seating, providing a shared external community space which wraps around the Millennium Clock
- Ashbourne Town Council have already contributed £40K to the project to cover architectural fees, legal fees on land acquisition and registration, demolition costs and the removal, storage and restoration of the Millennium Clock to ensure that it is in pristine condition in readiness for the redevelopment of the area.