Being a nature conservation charity, DWT is interested in making use of the building for the purposes of education and as a gateway to the Lea Wood Nature Reserve.
In November 2013, DerwentWISE commissioned Mansel Architects of Belper to undertake an options appraisal and survey of the property. In this a series of possible uses were rated and scored. Following this, a project proposal was developed by Ron Common ( DerwentWISE volunteer) and accepted by DWT to convert the building into a dual-purpose information hub and activity centre. The first floor activity room will be available for use by schools and community groups in order to generate a small amount of income.
To help take these proposals forwards Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust provided assistance and advice in partnership with the DWT and volunteer team from the Friends of Aqueduct Cottage. James Boon Architects developed the planning application and listed building consent applications submitted to Amber Valley Borough Council.
Aqueduct Cottage is ideally suited as a visitor interpretation centre, to tell the story of its history, the former people who lived there, and how these aspects related to a Derwent Valley landscape once put to work for industry but now being managed for people and nature.
The approach is to undertake a “light touch” restoration and “informed reconstruction”, using traditional methods and materials as far as possible to recreate the main structure of the cottage, plus the privy/pig sty outbuilding, as close as possible to their original external appearance when viewed from the canal frontage. This has been informed by historic and archive evidence as well as oral history.