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Marple Wharf – revitalising the waterfront

Posted on 1 June 2012

Written by:

Maja Luna Jorgensen

Over the past few months we’ve supported the Marple Civic Society and Marple Vision Partnership to develop their plans to bring historic Marple Wharf back into community use. Building on their work to create a vision for the town, the group wanted to draw on local knowledge to inform the future of the wharf and approached The Glass-House for support.

We put together a three-day programme of support to enable everyone who was involved to contribute their knowledge and ideas, be inspired by other projects and build their understanding of design and ways to deliver it.

First up we delivered an evening session, which brought together a broad range of stakeholders including young people from the local school, local authority officers, residents and representatives from a variety of groups and societies. Working in groups, participants mapped the town of Marple, thinking about aspects such as community spaces, open spaces, heritage, movement and transport, and then related these to the wharf site and looked at how to improve connections between the site and the rest of the town.

View towards the warehouse on Marple Wharf
One of the sub-groups maps out open spaces in and around Marple
Some of the tourism group’s observations on Marple’s strengths and weaknesses
Young people from Marple Hall School show their map on Community Spaces in Marple
The Hollingwood Hub
Glass-House Enabler Caroline Fraser facilitates a discussion on potential uses of the Wharf
A sub-group explores options for refurbishment and re-use of the warehouse on Marple Wharf
A simple model brings the spatial challenges and opportunities to life

A few weeks later we visited the Hollingwood Hub in Chesterfield, developed and managed by the Chesterfield Canal Trust. Robin Stonebridge and Rod Auton from the Trust and Geraint Cole from the Chesterfield Canal Partnership spoke about the process of developing a derelict canal and lock house into a well-used recreational resource and thriving community hub. Thinking creatively about how to regenerate the area, the Trust has developed training and employment opportunities for local people, whilst delivering physical change. Our talk and tour of the building provided plenty of inspiration on how to ensure social change through physical regeneration, how to keep the community involved in the whole process and about the design and physical development of a community facility.

Finally, a full-day workshop brought everyone together again to apply learning from both the study visit and the first workshop to the wharf project. Glass-House Enabler Caroline Fraser brought her experience of heritage architecture to the table, in particular about the process of working with an architect and with the local community to develop the building.

The group consolidated and checked the emerging ideas and began to prioritise them by looking at the financial costs and community benefits of each. We then explored design options through maps and 3-dimensional models.

The on-going work of the group is supported by Andrew Stunnell OBE MP, patron of Marple Civic Society and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Communities and Local Government, who spoke at the final workshop about the value and importance of the community’s work to develop the historic wharf and buildings into community facilities.

At the end of the process participants told us that they had “learned to look with fresh eyes” at their project and ways of engaging their community in the design process. They now plan to investigate whether developing the project through a social enterprise financing model would be a viable option.