Replacement for the Swiss Tearooms is finally on the way

Work on an exciting replacement for the derelict Swiss Tea Rooms within Belper River Gardens, is finally set to commence. Amber Valley Borough Council is committed to delivering a new building which will be appropriate to the setting and history of the site and which will enhance the visitor experience.

The Council’s Cabinet had decided in March that officers should continue to work with the Belper Community Enterprise CIC and Belper Town Council to secure a financially sustainable catering facility and to seek an operator to run it. However, the decision was put on hold, when two Councillors asked for the decision to be examined by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, citing that there was no evidence that the proposed scheme would be suitable for a World Heritage Site, the decision had been taken hastily without consulting heritage partners and that the consultant who advised the Council did not appear to have local knowledge.

At a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on 6 June, Cabinet members, who had made the decision, pointed out that no proposed scheme had been approved and, in fact, any design would be the subject of consultation with interested parties. They also advised that the Council’s consultant was an experienced catering specialist inthe cultural sector who was fully aware of the setting of the tearooms. The Committee accepted these answers and approved officers to now act on the March decision.

The Council will now use the Government’s Contracts Finder website to seek suitable companies that are interested in designing and building a new facility that is in keeping with its heritage setting, as soon as possible.

Speaking after the Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Chris Short, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment said: “This delay of almost three months has been extremely disappointing and, in my opinion, unnecessary. I am relieved that we can now start to replace the derelict and collapsing Swiss Tea Rooms with a viable refreshments facility.

“The approval to procure a replacement building at a cost of up to £290,000 is proportionate in the light of the findings of the specialist catering consultant. By using ‘design and build’ we will keep costs as low as possible and hope to make up for lost time.”

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