Latest News | 29 November 2022

Plans lodged for £6.5m National Stone Centre transformation

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Plans have been submitted for a £6.5 million transformation of the National Stone Centre in Derbyshire.

The detailed planning application, jointly submitted by the National Stone Centre and the Institute of Quarrying, aims to turn the site, near Wirksworth, into a centre of excellence for the industry – and a place to inspire the next generation.

The first phase of the project includes a 100-seater café/restaurant, four classrooms with a combined capacity for 120 learners, museum/exhibition space, souvenir shop, playground and open-air circular piazza for community events.

James Thorne, chief executive officer of the Institute of Quarrying, which has merged with the National Stone Centre, said: “In 2021 the value of tourism to the Peak District and Derbyshire’s economy was estimated at £1.96 billion.

“A reimagined and reinvigorated National Stone Centre will bring new visitors, as well as providing a focal point for engaging the public, schools and colleges in the science, history, present and future of the quarrying and mineral products industry.”

Backing the plans, Jo Dilley, managing director of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, said: “These plans signal a positive step towards the goal of creating an extraordinary new centre of excellence that will not only attract visitors from across the UK but will also support local jobs and provide unique educational opportunities that will benefit both visitors and residents alike.”

The National Stone Centre officially opened in 1990 to inspire people to engage with the origin, industry and the history of stone.

It is set within six former limestone quarries on a 40-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The design of the new centre draws on influences from local rock formations, including the overhanging rock formations found in local gritstone outcrops, such as Black Rocks and Stanage Edge.

This would be achieved thanks to a cantilevered structure, allowing the building to emerge from the hillside.

Mr Thorne said: “We’re delighted to have reached this point in the project, which makes everything feel so much more real.

“This planning application is the end result of over a year’s consultation and engagement with all of our stakeholders.

“We have listened and learned, taking on board feedback that has helped shape our application.

“We firmly believe that our plans represent an exciting moment in the history of the National Stone Centre, delivering a unique building that is both fit for purpose and inspiring for generations to come.

“It’s the home that such a significant collection deserves, as well as proudly representing what is now the largest manufacturing sector in the UK.”

The aim of the National Stone Centre is to be a centre of excellence, providing a national, regional and local base for aspects related to learning and innovation about stone and allied matters.

The vision is to create a destination that the quarrying and minerals products industry can use to engage its employees and other stakeholders vital to the future of the sector.

Viv Russell, president of the Institute of Quarrying, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a hugely exciting new visitor centre that celebrates the extraordinary role that stone plays in all of our lives, to inspire the next generation and create a centre of excellence to develop the knowledge and skills of people in the industry today.”

The importance of the quarrying industry to the Derbyshire economy was highlighted in Marketing Derby’s Innovate magazine earlier this year.

To read the article click here.

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