Long-term vacant shops in Ilkeston town centre should be turned into homes, says councillor

An aerial shot of Ilkeston town centre
An aerial shot of Ilkeston town centre

A councillor has urged long-term vacant shops in Ilkeston be turned into homes.

The plea came during a meeting of Erewash Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening.

Coun John Frudd (Labour), who represents Kirk Hallam and Stanton by Dale, said: “We need more houses in the town centre.

“What I want is for empty shops in Bath Street (home to most of Ilkeston’s shops), which are never going to be shops again, they have been derelict for years – I think it is time they have another use and we need more houses.

“I also want to see more affordable accommodation – there are people who will never be able to afford their own accommodation.”

Meanwhile, fellow Labour councillor Howard Griffiths, representing the Derby Road East ward in Long Eaton, said: “I have to disagree with Coun Frudd, we do need shops, there is still a place for them and I don’t think the days of small shops are over.

“It just a matter of slow evolution, there is a lot of turnover of these sites, that is correct.

“It was said years ago that shops in the High Street in Long Eaton would all be closed in several years – but they are still there now.”

One of the empty stores, at 119 Bath Street, which used to be Mabe Allen LLP chartered accountants, has been unused since 2005.

The comments came as councillors unanimously approved 12 houses to be built on the site of Rutland Mill in Ilkeston town centre, just behind the main mill complex.

Last August it was reported that a scheme run on behalf of the borough council aimed at reviving empty shops by giving new businesses cash incentives, had led to shops reopening in Ilkeston and Long Eaton.

The Golden Hello scheme, run by the Erewash Partnership, offering grants worth £1,000 to business owners willing to open up in the high street in a bid to transform the make up of two towns.

An initial grant of £500 is made through the scheme and a further £500 is awarded after 10 weeks of trading.

Last year, through this scheme, All About Tours opened in former photo studio in Midland Street, Long Eaton, along with Tallulah and Delilah, a vintage dress shop, in Derby Road.

In Ilkeston, Barefeet Wellbeing Lounge, which offers alternative therapies, opened in a vacant shop unit in Manners Road, along with The Humble Rutland Cafe in Mundy Street.

Meanwhile, a project called rEvive, established in 2009, aims to fill long term empty shops in Ilkeston and Long Eaton with creative workshops, performances and exhibitions with the aim of revitalising the town centres and giving vacant units a consistent use.

The scheme, run by the Culture and Arts Forum Erewash, hopes that the project will keep local residents coming into their town centres and keep other businesses in the area afloat.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service