Candidate: Belper
Location: Derbyshire, England
Category: The Great Town Award
Year: 2023

Other finalists in this category: Caernarfon, Gwynedd and Stromness, Orkney Islands (winner)

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Judges' comments:

“Belper proves how proactive, shared community involvement and collaboration between local groups and the Town Council can create lasting benefit. By prioritising small business, Belper has maintained a high street brimming with local independent stores, and a wide variety of street festivals and food markets across the town. It is a place that attracts local and holiday visitors and is working to improve transport links. The town has a great deal of pride in its industrial heritage and there is evidence of excellent repurposing of historic buildings, as well as investment in housing and ambitious community projects.” - Tim Challans AoU, Great Town Lead Assessor


Belper is a former mill town of around 20,000 people in a beautiful rural setting in Derbyshire. It lies within the Derwent valley UNESCO World Heritage Site and the town values its heritage and its industrial and residential buildings the majority of which are the legacy of 19th Century industrialisation and the influence of the philanthropic Strutt family. It is a forward-looking town with a very active Town Council, working closely with the District and County Councils. It has a very passionate community and volunteer culture which has had the energy to resist negative changes and argue for positive ones for the benefit of the town as well as supporting many public events and celebrations. Its economy thrives on independent businesses and its good public transport links to East Midlands cities and the Peak District.

Thumbnail illustration of Belper by David Rudlin AoU, Artist-in-Residence

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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