Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the Peak Shopping Village are teaming up to create a new nature reserve on the banks of the River Derwent in Rowsley.
Work has already begun to transform the five-acre site, which is owned by the retail business, with volunteers busy digging large pools and planting 200 trees.
Katayune Jacquin, from Peak Shopping Village, said: “This area of the village has long been underused so what better to allow it to return to nature for everyone to enjoy.
“It will be a real asset to the shopping village and also the local area. Now, when you visit us you can shop, relax in our cafés and pop outside and immerse yourself in nature.”
She added: “We are delighted to be working closely with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.”
The trust’s Dave Savage said: “The site naturally captures the excess rainfall and slowly releases it back into the river over several days, meaning the risk of flooding is reduced further downstream.
“We’ve designed the reserve around this important function. We’ll have two large pools, wild flower rich grassland and a small area of woodland over by the river bank.”
The transformation is expected to be complete in May but wildlife has already started moving in. Regular visitors include a heron, two mandarin ducks and a lone kestrel.
Conservation experts expect an increase in pollinators to follow, along with invertebrates such as beetles, butterflies, bees and moths attracted by the wild flowers, tall grasses and carefully placed piles of deadwood.
Wildfowl will begin to nest in the pools, with frogs, toads and newts for neighbours.
Increasing numbers of woodland birds such as nuthatches, woodpeckers and finches are also likely to enjoy the extra cover provided by the small woodland.
Dave said: “The river bank is ideal for otters, so we’ve all got our fingers crossed that eventually an otter may call the reserve home.
“Flocks of sand martins regularly nest on the river bank which we have now fenced in to give added protection from people and grazing animals.”
The area is being made more accessible for human visitors too.
Footpaths will be threaded throughout the reserve, with nature discovery trails and a pond-dipping platform for children, schools and community groups.