The Darley Abbey Society Twenty Years - Progress So Far
The birth of the Society in 1989 came about from the success of Julian Marshall and others, in consultation with an architect and a developer, in opposing the planning application for a block of flats to be built, where the very pleasant cottages are now, in Brick Row opposite the old School. From this experience and success it was appreciated that it would be good to have a group in Darley Abbey that could keep an eye on such matters in the future. Thus, The Darley Abbey Society was born - Darley Abbey's voice, so to speak!
One of the other early big projects resulted from the planning application for a proposed large house to be built on the area where the riverside garden is now located on Darley Street. Objections to the plan were started by the residents of Flat Square and the DAS were asked to help. We followed it through and, after much discussion and two public inquiries, the house proposal was over-turned. Thereafter the DAS, with Derby City Council and the then River Authority, purchased the land and jointly designed and developed the garden which is now enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
The centre of the village is a conservation area and part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, and therefore planning and conservation issues remain at the heart of our work. We have a member of the Committee dedicated to these issues, who monitors all planning applications in the area each week, and reports to the Committee. Where neccessary we will raise objections to any application that we feel would have an adverse affect on the area or its residents. Residents, members and non-members, have come to the Society from time to time for advice or help on planning applications for proposed development. The Society has assisted where possible.
But our work doesn't stop there. We have bought litter bins and initiated others in areas of need in the village. We have bought seats for the garden, the park and the village. We have also initiated and paid for for new notice-boards and have repaired and acquired additional ones, all of which are well-used by village groups and others.
When it was known that Nynex were coming to the village to lay their cables, we had all heard tales-of-woe about damage done to trees, pavements and private front gardens by cable-laying in other parts of the city. The DAS arranged meetings and exhibitions with Nynex staff to enable people to express their concerns. As a result Nynex did a very satisfactory job in Darley Abbey and had very few complaints.
At one time the Public Toilets in the park were a disgrace and unusable for most people. As a result of much time by the DAS in discussion with the City Council the toilets were greatly improved. There is now a continuing need for vigilance by us all to report any vandalism or other activity that could again make them unusable.
Safety for users of the pathway from the A6 to the Walter Evans School was improved when, through DAS initiative, the Electricity Authority and the City Council got together and installed lighting which had been badly needed. The Society also took action successfully when Some Darley Abbey residents were being disturbed by excessive noise from heavy lorries early in the mornings. Helen McCoy and Gordon Jones, respectively, acted for the Society in those two matters.
For five consecutive years from 1993 to 1997 Darley Abbey won 1st place in the East Midlands Britain in Bloom competition and in 1993 also won 1st place in the National competition. The work included the re-cultivation and re-planting of the garden in front of the shops from DAS funds and mainly with DAS labour.
More recently, the Environment Agency announced that it was preparing a new Lower Derwent Flood Prevention Strategy. We immediately contacted the Agency so that we could influence their plans. We arranged a number of meetings at the Village Hall with their officials and as a result we are happy that their plans would be beneficial to the village.
Another very important consulatation was with the City Council and its consultants Atkins over its Darley Abbey Regeneration Strategy. After years of lobbying by the Society to get the Darley Abbey Mills and the old Darley Hall stable block repaired, restored, and brought back into use, the council agreed to commission a study on how best to deal with the problem. Our imput was taken into account and reasonable scheme devised. The Council has agreed to put aside from its regeneration fund a sum of money to help implement the plan.
We have also been involved with a number of other consultations, including the Local Transport Plan, the Derbyshire Mineral and Waste Management Plan and Derby City Council's Core Strategy.
We have a representative on the Darley Ward Neighbourhood Board. Neighbourhood Forums and Boards were set up a few years ago with their own devolved budget to enable local people to have a greater say in what goes on in their area. See www.derby.gov.uk/CommunityLiving. The Board's work covers Highways, Crime, Environment, Planning and Conservation issues and subcommittees have been set up to deal with each area. As Darley Abbey Village only forms a small part of Darley Ward it is important that we represent the interests of village residents on the Board. The Board can also make grants to local organisations with projects that benefit the community. Several organisations in the Village have benefited from these grants.
The Society is a member of the Derwent Valley Mills Partnership which is the body set up to manage the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site inscribed by UNESCO in 2001. see www.derwentvalleymills.org . Through our membership of the partnership we get an inside track on developments in the Site and have a say at meetings of the Partnership.
At our AGM in 2007 we amended our constitution to allow us to set up a subgroup to manage the newly designated Darley and Nutwood Local Nature reserve. Since then the subgroup has gone from strength to strength arranging walks and talks, working parties and various improvements to the Reserve. They also have their own wesite at www.darleyandnutwood.org.uk. The management group remains a subgroup of the Society.
The Society is also a member of Derby Civic Society and has a representative on their committee, and through them representation on the City's Conservation Area Advisory Committee. We are also members of the East Midlands Association of Conservation and Heritage Societies which gives us links to other Societies across the region and help and advice where neccessary.
The Society also has close links with other organisations such as the Friends of Darley Open Spaces, Darley Abbey Community Association, Darley Abbey Historical Society, Chester Green Residents Association and Strutt's Park Residents Association.
The Society has addressed many other smaller problems on a day-to-day basis over the years. Many of those would seem extremely small to people not involved, but to those affected some of those small problems have been very big and worrying.
Traffic movements and parking in Darley Abbey continue to be a problem despite the success of the traffic committee in getting traffic calming measures installed on the main routes through the village. We have therefore appointed a dedicated committee member to try and get better traffic contol measures implemented . He also sits on the Highways Subcommittee of the Darley Neighbourhood Board which can use part of the Board's devolved budget for traffic related issues.
The Darley Abbey Society is always very happy to welcome new members who will receive regular newsletters each year and are invited to all of the open meetings to hear good speakers on many different subjects of common interest. Memebers will also be given access to the "Members Only" part of this website. For more information about membership please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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