Ashbourne Reborn

#DISCOVERASHBOURNE

£13.3m levelling-up monies for Ashbourne

Why has Ashbourne been awarded £13.3 million of levelling-up fund money?  What will it be spent on? And when?

Read all about Ashbourne's successful bid, announced on 18th January 2023.

Author:
Ashbourne Town Team
Published:
January 19, 2023
Updated:
January 19, 2023

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Why Ashbourne?

Ashbourne is a seemingly idyllic and prosperous town with noted Georgian & medieval architecture, located on the edge of the Peak District National Park.

Many people will be wondering why Ashbourne deserves this funding. There are good reasons....

Ashbourne's town centre streets are on the trunk route for England's quarrying industry and the unrelenting HGV traffic generates illegal levels of pollution - this air quality blog tells the story.

Roads are too wide and pavements too narrow, leaving shoppers in danger from HGVs passing just inches away.  

The listed cobbles throughout the public spaces should be an asset but they are worn out and slippery. In summer there are knee-high weeds growing in the many cracks.

Locals are choosing to spend their money elsewhere and visitors do not linger, further hastening the decline of the high street. The loss of Waitrose has been a particular blow.

Our historic and much loved town was dying whilst we looked on, seemingly powerless to help. Until now.....

What projects are being funded?

The full story is given in the bid document, with lots of detail on the proposed works and the reasons why Ashbourne is in such need.

There are two broad categories of regeneration project.

  • Category A is the "public realm" - roads, pavements & public spaces around Ashbourne Town Centre, with LUF funding of £8.4m.
  • Category B is a community hub, centred on the Methodist Church with LUF funding of £4.9m.

Project A1 - Town Centre roads

  • On Dig Street and St John Street the pavements will be widened and the road narrowed, to slow down the traffic and make the shopping streets nicer for pedestrians.
  • On Compton, Dig Street, St John Street, Market Place & Buxton Road, pavements will be resurfaced with extensive use of limestone flags and granite setts.
  • On St John Street, new pedestrian crossings will be installed.
  • On Church Street and Station Road, there will be cycle lanes to connect the town centre with The Tissington Trail.
  • There will be improved street lighting.

Project A2 - Market Place

  • Car parking is to be moved to roadsides, leaving the central area car-free (but access for businesses will remain).
  • Business service such as rubbish bins will be more discreet.
  • Trees, seating and lighting will be added.
  • The cobbles and limestone flags will be restored.
  • Electricity points will be installed so the space can be used for markets and events.
  • Bicycle parking will be installed.

Project A3 - Victoria Square

  • The cobbles and limestone flags will be restored.
  • Seating and lighting will be added.
  • Electricity points will be installed for use by market traders.
  • Bicycle parking will be installed.

Project A4 - Millennium Square

  • The "elderly persons rest room" will be removed.
  • Cobbled surfaces will be restored from The Gallery along to Middle Cale.
  • Bicycle parking will be installed.
  • There will be a new seating and garden area around the Millennium clock.

Project A5 - Horse & Jockey Yd / Shawcroft

  • Horse & Jockey Yard will be resurfaced with limestone flags to match the Market Place.
  • Signage will be improved throughout Shawcroft to indicate all the alleyways to the town centre.
  • The walk through between the Co-Op and the public toilets will be closed off to become a storage zone for market stalls etc.
  • A secure bicycle storage zone with e-bike charging will be installed.
  • Street lighting will be improved.
  • Some disabled parking will be relocated.

Project A6 - Shrovetide Walk

The whole of the area next to the library will be repurposed as a garden and seating area with public art and information about the Royal Shrovetide football game.

Project B  - Community Hub

This project in the grounds of the Methodist Church already has full planning permission. It will be a welcoming space not only for Ashbourne residents but also for visitors to and from The Tissington Trail.

  • A glass-fronted extension will be built in the sunken courtyard on Station Road to include kitchens, toilets, offices and community meeting spaces.
  • The AR Bentley shop will become a "green-mobility" information hub.
  • Step-free access will be built down into a new riverside garden.
  • The garden will include e-bike charging points and bicycle parking.
  • The existing "YHA-style" accommodation will be extended and upgraded.

Will this money solve the problems?

To some extent yes, it will.

Narrowing the roads and widening the pavements won't stop the HGVs pumping out pollution but it will allow Ashbourne's residents to move around the town centre more safely. It may also discourage HGVs from using the town as a short cut.

Pedestrianising the Market Place and creating the garden at the Community Hub will create two much-needed traffic-free open spaces and give Ashbourne's listed buildings the surroundings they deserve.

Resurfacing the alleyways and open spaces will allow pedestrians to walk about without fear of falling and the use of similar materials throughout will create a cohesive theme that links the different areas together.

Ashbourne is the natural home of The Tissington Trail and the addition of plentiful bicycle parking will allow its many thousands of users to safely visit the town centre.

All of this will hopefully encourage visitors and locals to stay longer and spend more money.

And we hope this investment will be the catalyst for more private investment to make our town even more attractive to locals, visitors and businesses.

When will this happen?

A condition of getting the funding is that the projects are lined up and ready to go, so a lot of the preliminary work has already been done. The timetables have all been pushed back by a couple of months because of the government delaying the announcement, but roughly the timings are as follows:

  • Projects A4 and A6 (Shrovetide Walk and Millennium clock) should be done during 2023.
  • Project A1 (highways) should be done by autumn 2024
  • Everything else should be done by summer 2025.

How did we deliver this success story?

It all started with a town meeting in 2019, between residents, councillors and businesses. From that meeting the Town Team was born.

Since then the Town Team has been working tirelessly to lobby our local authorities, build relationships and create a strategy to deliver improvements.

The Methodist Church already had a strategy to transform their site into a modern community hub and they joined forces with the Town Team to create a combined strategy for the whole of the town centre, which was presented to DDDC and our local MP Sarah Dines.

We had to pitch the proposals for Ashbourne and compete against other towns in the District but we were successful in winning the support for Ashbourne.

DDDC then had to prepare a detailed bid proposal for the government LUF bid round 2. This was a highly competitive bid process but the excellent quality of the Ashbourne proposal was recognised and we were successful.

The whole process towards achieving this has been an incredible effort and example of great teamwork by many local volunteers and elected representatives. Ashbourne owes a debt of gratitude to the small group of volunteers who put in a huge amount of their personal time, for the benefit of us all.

What next?

The next steps will be challenging and there is huge commitment to delivering this investment in the best possible way.

The Town Team will be holding a public meeting on 8th March 2023 to share information and discuss more community participation.

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