Millers Dale future plans to be reconsidered
This is an archived press release
Friday 27 January 2012
Different options to bring further investment into the former Millers Dale station site on the Monsal Trail are to be considered by the Peak District National Park Authority.
In 2010 the authority agreed to lease Millers Dale to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for 75 years provided the trust was successful with a £2.5 million to £3 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to redevelop the site.
The trust wanted to turn the building, which is alongside the Monsal Trail near Tideswell, into the White Peak Heritage Centre.
It would have included a visitor centre and café, interpretation, a car park and public toilets and a range of facilities for use by the Peak District National Park Authority’s rangers and countryside and maintenance team. It would also have seen the partial restoration of the station platform.
The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been advised by the Heritage Lottery Fund that its application for a grant of this size would be unlikely to succeed. So they wished to scale back plans to redevelop the site and make a £1 million bid instead.
But the revised plan would mean the authority’s countryside and maintenance team – which is based at Millers Dale - and their equipment would no longer have a secure space that is separate from visitor areas.
Since the original decision to award the lease the Peak District National Park Authority has also found out from the Government that its budget is being cut by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2015, meaning the authority needs to save around £1.8 million.
Currently income from the car park at Millers Dale contributes to the authority’s budget.
Christopher Pennell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority’s audit, resources and performance committee, said: "We and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have invested a lot of time and effort into this issue but the terms on which the original deal was agreed have changed dramatically for both parties.
"We have held detailed discussions with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to see if we could amend the deal to meet the changing circumstances and revised objectives of both parties but have been unable to find a solution.
"So we feel it is best to review the whole site and consider all options for the future to ensure they best help us deliver national park purposes in light of the new financial situation we face, while reflecting the reduced grant funding available due to the current national economic climate.
"This will involve discussions with any potential partner, including the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust."
While the long term future of the site is considered in detail the authority will consider drawing up short-term plans to improve refreshment facilities and interpretation at Millers Dale.
Christopher added: "The Monsal Trail has become an extremely important recreation facility in the national park for walkers, cyclists and horse riders following the re-opening of the former railway tunnels.
"It is crucial that we find a solution at Millers Dale that achieves value for money while still delivering a great experience for users of the trail."