Community unites to put Ashfield on the map

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 2:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 3:44 pm

New identity for district

Business and civic leaders are hoping to put Ashfield district firmly on the nation’s map with a new Discover Ashfield programme.

The Ashfield Place board – featuring councillors, council officers, business and community leaders – have been working for more than a year to develop a plan to “make Ashfield a location and destination of choice for business and visitors and a desirable place to live for all residents”.

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Martin Rigley, board chairman, “As someone who not only lives in Ashfield but chooses to run their business from Ashfield I am very excited to be involved with the Discover Ashfield initiative. This is a great chance for people from Ashfield and externally to see what I have known for years.

“The people we employ from within the local community have a great can do attitude and this is reflected by their commitment and ability to deliver.

“So to me Discover Ashfield is a clarion call to our community and businesses to look ahead and seize the opportunities we have, so we can really make this a fantastic place to live, grow your business, raise your family and visit.”

Councillor Tom Hollis, Ashfield District Council member for strategic leisure, communities and health, said: “The board was set up with the aspiration of making Ashfield a location and destination of choice for businesses and visitors and a desirable place to live for all residents.

“A range of stakeholders and partners have been involved in shaping the project, with a desire to see efforts unified to maximise the impact in helping Ashfield prosper, everyone involved has been struck by the level of passion and ambition for Ashfield.

“The Discover Ashfield brand has been developed in a bid to promote Ashfield in a positive manner, increase pride and aspirations in our communities, improve the vibrancy of our town centres, encourage and promote inward investment and support tourism and the visitor economy in the Ashfield area. The brand incorporates all aspects of Ashfield life, with the three towns and rural areas having their own illustration with recognisable landmarks.

“An ambassador programme has been set up to recruit ambassadors including business, visitor and community leaders who actively promote Ashfield.

“Along with a website and social media the branding will be used to give Ashfield a recognisable identity.

“Focusing on the areas of residents and wellbeing, visitors and tourism and business and investment, Discover Ashfield will help put Ashfield on the map.”

Visitors and tourism

Ashfield is rich in history and culture with a wealth of historical figures linked to the district, such as Lord Byron, one of England’s most famous poets, who is buried in Hucknall.

Earlier this year, the life of Carl Toms was celebrated with the unveiling of a plaque on Kingsway, Kirkby, the place of his birth.

Renowned as one of the best set and costume designers and

known for his work in theatre, opera, ballet, and film he received multiple awards; winning Tony, Drama Desk and Laurence Olivier awards for his set and scenic designs.

Alongside its cultural history, Ashfield also boasts great outdoor space including Brierley Forest Park, King’s Mill Reservoir and The Lawns, Sutton.

The district’s proximity to Sherwood Forest and Hardwick Hall make Ashfield the perfect base to explore all that Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have to offer.

The growing evening economy offers a number of new micro-breweries and restaurants with established music venues such as The Diamond, Sutton attracting music lovers from across Nottinghamshire.

Residents and wellbeing

The town centres of Kirkby and Sutton provide a great variety of shops and services to residents. Investments such as Idlewells indoor market have helped transform the towns, helping breathe life back into the town centres.

Independent retailers in areas such as Outram Street in Sutton and Kingsway in Kirkby are offering residents a range of specialist and niche shopping experiences.

This year Outram Street has seen two of its retailers, Jim Grice and The Rose Bower, celebrate 50 years of trading.

Idlewells shopping centre, Sutton, and the East Midlands Designer outlet, on the edge of the district, both provide a range of high street brands and national restaurant chains.

Ashfield is home to world-class leisure facilities.

Sutton’s Lammas Leisure Centre, which has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, offers swimming, ice skating, gym and fitness classes and has seen a number of top athletes train there.

The recent announcement of the new leisure centre in Kirkby will enhance the facilities on offer in the district even further.

Award-winning parks and outdoor spaces in the district offer residents and visitors picturesque walks, running and cycling routes, play areas and sports pitches.

The Mill Waters project, involving Hermitage Ponds, Sutton Lawn and King’s Mill Reservoir are hoping to be successful in securing Lottery funding to enhance visitor experience.

Board member Darron Ellis, of Sutton Living Memory Group, says, “Discover Ashfield is an exciting and empowering step forward for Ashfield. It is something the community can get behind, support and take part in.

“Whether it is a big business, small group or individual, everyone can get involved. Discover Ashfield is a new beginning, inclusive, innovative and a step forward in the regeneration of the area. It will promote our wonderful heritage, boost businesses established and new, and will improve training and job opportunities and put Ashfield on the map. A lot of hard work has taken place to ensure a firm base has been laid for the future.

“By including the whole community it will create a more vibrant, healthy and empowered place to live, work in and invest in. Something for all.”

Businesses and investment

The location of Ashfield makes it an ideal place for businesses to develop and grow. Close to major highways, a number industries have chosen to make Ashfield their home.

The A38 Ashfield corridor is home to several upholstery companies, including Whitemeadow and Parker Knoll. Kirkby’s Romo Fabrics, a market leader in designer fabrics and wallcoverings, won the prestigious Queen’s award for enterprise in 2017 for its success in international trade. Sherwood Business Park, Annesley, is home to a large number of international companies including Dell, Eddie Stobart and E.on.

Mr Rigley, owner of Lindhurst Engineering, Junction Road, Sutton, says “Ashfield has some businesses with a globally recognised brand as well as clusters of extremely innovative business all supported by a diverse range of smaller businesses who are really part of the working heart of the business community, locally and nationally.

“Certainly the demise of the

traditional industries of mining and textiles has had a great impact locally, but it’s time to look ahead with a renewed optimism as the opportunities that technology and innovation offer for the growth and prosperity Ashfield are there for our community to benefit from.”