Flats are ‘key’ to improving town centre

Mike Sherwood Wilmot Street Flats in Ilkeston.
Mike Sherwood Wilmot Street Flats in Ilkeston.
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As David Cameron told the ‘Tiser this week that bringing homes into the town centre could help our ailing high streets, an Ilkeston church has unveiled three Bath Street flats.

Hot on the heels of a plan to build 26 flats lower down Bath Street, Ilkeston’s St Andrew’s Methodist Church has been busy transforming a derelict solicitors offices above three Bath Street businesses into one-bedroom apartments.

The church has owned the whole building, which includes 5-A-Day fruit and veg shop and ‘63’ barbers on the ground floor, for many years, explained Mike Sherwood, from the church.

He said that creating quality homes in the town centre was key to helping fill the empty shops that blight Bath Street.

“Let’s bring people back in,” he said. “The rejuvenation of Bath Street relies on derelict buildings like this being brought back into use.

“We are part of what we hope is a bigger picture for Bath Street. We are a small cog in it.”

Up to six people could live in the two-storey homes within weeks, who would be buying goods from town centre shops, he explained.

While the Prime Minister was visiting a Long Eaton furniture factory on Monday he told the ‘Tiser: “Abandoned offices can make very good homes.”

Mr Cameron said he has given local councils the power to be more flexible and develop their own strategies for their high streets.

Mike said that the three shops below the new flats were refurbished before the work on the homes started and they have all now had toilets fitted.

“The businesses are all very happy with the work we have done,” he said.