Funding bid hopes to safeguard iconic landscape

A partnership which aims to safeguard and restore the iconic landscape of the Lower Derwent Valley has submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £1.767 million of funding.

The DerwentWISE partnership, led by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, has applied for the funding as part of a £2.45 million, five-year project involving 14 partners. In 2011 the partnership was awarded £104,000 of development funding by HLF to put together the bid.

The project focuses on the landscape around the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, where the factory system began at the start of the Industrial Revolution. The area extends from Matlock Bath, with its dramatic limestone gorge, south through a stunningly beautiful wooded river valley broadening into a wide floodplain as it approaches Derby, and on into the city centre.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Director of Living Landscapes, Matthew Croney, explains: “While the World Heritage Site is now globally recognised, less attention has been given to the heritage importance of the wider landscape, which includes internationally important ancient woodlands and archaeological sites which date from way before the mills of the industrial revolution. As a result, it has been slowly deteriorating, often due to unintended damage or neglect. We’d like to thank all the partners and the public for the tremendous effort they have put into this bid. Through this project, we are sure that we can make a real difference so that this living landscape can thrive once again.”

The wide-ranging bid includes 64 sub-projects across four themes – conserving or restoring heritage, increasing community participation, improving access and learning, and training and skills. A decision is likely to be made in late September, with the project then due to start in October.

A detailed Landscape Conservation Action Plan, which forms the main basis of the funding application, is available to download from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s website, www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk