The short-listed architects bidding to design the replacement for the Swiss Tea Rooms in Belper River Gardens have presented their final case to a panel of judges at Amber Valley Borough Council. The panel met on Thursday 2 June, following a request of some of the entrants, to judge the presentations against scored criteria. This included the look of the concept, its environmental sustainability, and its conservation and heritage setting. The Judging Panel comprised Belper Borough Councillors, Alan Cox and Martin Tomlinson, and the Director of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Partnership, Mark Suggitt.
The Judging Panel's scores and the outcome of the earlier public consultation on the short-listed designs will be reported to a future Council meeting, along with the results of further research with the catering sector about the commercial viability of the proposals. The Council will make the final decision on appointing the successful architect and design.
Councillor Alan Cox, Chairman of the Judging Panel said: " We were hoping to make a recommendation to the June Council meeting but with some of the scores being close, it is important that we take a bit more time to test with the catering sector the long term commercial viability of the leading designs.
"The final design has to be right for Belper River Gardens, and have a long-term viable future. We also want to make sure that the final design has the best possible chance of meeting the planning requirements of being within a World Heritage Site. It is therefore important to take the time to make the right decision.
"The standard of the presentations was high, and as can be seen on the Council's web site, we had far more information before us than was originally part of the public consultation, which had an impact on how we scored the proposals. We thank all the architects for putting so much into the process so far. "
A decision is expected to be made in the autumn.
The full designs and scores can be seen at www.ambervalley.gov.uk
Notes to editors
Amber Valley Borough Council launched a competition in November 2010 asking architects to come forward with designs for the replacing the building which sits in Belper's River Gardens in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Six judges have so far taken part in the process to assess the submissions, which were reduced from 21 to 6 following a short-listing process in February 2011.
The six short-listed designs were then put to public consultation in March. There were 371 responses to the consultation.
Following a request by two of the architects, five of the six architects bidding to design the replacement building then presented to a panel of judges on Thursday 2 June with their final designs (one declined to do so).
Once a design has been selected, and subject to the grant of the necessary planning approvals etc., the Council will look at external sources of funding for the project, which is expected to cost in the region of £400,000. We will also be looking for someone to operate the Tea Rooms on a tenancy basis.
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