Work on Woolies in Ilkeston set to begin in new year

Lead Pastor Kristian Thorpe and community manager Lisa Harrison from the Arena Church pictured outside the old Woolworths shop in Ilkeston, which they have acquired for a church project.
Lead Pastor Kristian Thorpe and community manager Lisa Harrison from the Arena Church pictured outside the old Woolworths shop in Ilkeston, which they have acquired for a church project.

A project to transform the former Woolworths building in Ilkeston into a community asset is set to begin in the new year.

The Arena Community took on the lease for the building around a year ago.

Arena intends to refurbish the property with the ground floor offering a store for retailing restored furniture together with a café. New education and training facilities will be created on the first floor.

The restoration work is set to cost £127,000 and most of the money has now been sourced.

Lisa Harrison, community manager at the Arena, said: “We have been awarded £100,000 from Erewash Borough Council and are hoping to commence work at the beginning of the new year.

“The progress has seemed slow due to raising sufficient funds and liaising with our supporters. As people can appreciate it is a big undertaking.

“We are excited for the opportunity that this project has already afforded as in partnering with the community and local organisations and all the opportunities it will bring.”

Arena Community has been working in partnership with Derby College on the refurbishment of the property. Supervised construction skills students will undertake the majority of the work as a means of gaining practical experience.

The money is from a 106 agreement as part of the planning permission granted to Morrisson’s for their supermarket on the former Derby College site in Ilkeston.

The agreement required Morrisson’s to contribute £250,000 towards town centre improvement initiatives.

The funding was approved in October and will be presented in the new year. Arena Community have previously received funding through the council’s Ilkeston Empty Shop Improvement Grant scheme, which has funded repair work to the shop frontage.

Councillor Michael Powell, Erewash Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration and planning said: “We are delighted to be able to grant up to £100,000 to Arena Community to support their work - a move which is part of a very positive double deal by this council in our continued commitment to regenerate Ilkeston town centre.

“Adding to this excellent news for the town is our award of a further £100,000 to ALB Estates Ltd to support their work in the ground floor refurbishment of the former Co-op department store.

“These are two iconic buildings in the centre of Ilkeston, much loved by the public. This is a £200,000 commitment by EBC to help bring them back to life and play a part in the town centre.”