The transformation of Chesterfield town centre will move a step closer in the next few weeks when a major public consultation begins.
Chesterfield-based architects Whittam Cox are currently drawing up a vision document of how the flagship Northern Gateway scheme and the wider area will develop over the next 20 years.
It will be published next month when residents and businesses will be invited to have their say on the wide-ranging plans.
Andrew Dabbs, design director at Whittam Cox Architects, said: “We are happy to have been commissioned by Chesterfield Borough Council to provide this vision for the Northern Gateway, a key part of the town centre.
“This is a long-term vision which offers a means to promote and market the future development potential of the area so that long term regeneration benefits can be realised by Chesterfield.”
Mr Dabbs gave a presentation to more than 80 business leaders at a breakfast meeting - organised by marketing group Destination Chesterfield - at Staveley Hall on Thursday.
There, they were shown artists’ impressions of the planned Northern Gateway project - giving them an insight into how the area around the Donut roundabout at Holywell Cross could be transformed.
In the shorter term, a business enterprise centre will eventually be built on part of the Donut car park for start-up and small and medium sized companies.
Phase one of the new development would see around 80 of the current 255 car parking spaces lost.
But the centre, expected to open in 2019, is a key part of the revised £19.9m Northern Gateway project - which promises to improve a main entrance to Chesterfield and create nearly 500 new jobs.
The project also includes:
- A revamp of the former Co-op building
- A full refurbishment of the Saltergate multi-storey car park will see 121 spaces brought back into use
- Environmental and street improvements to Elder Way and part of Knifesmithgate, including wider pavements to create a terrace area.
It will be funded by a Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund grant of £5.83m and £3.5m from the borough council, with the £10.5m Co-op redevelopment being paid for by the private sector.
A rethink of the original plans for the Northern Gateway began in 2015 after no large food retailer could be attracted to the site, which was necessary to make the rest of the scheme viable.
The original plan also included proposals for town centre housing. While this is not in the revised plan, it remains an option for the future.
Planning permission is already in place for a leisure scheme at the former Co-op building that will include:
- Six ground floor restaurants
- A hotel on the first and second floors
- A health and fitness centre in the basement
The first occupiers to be announced are Premier Inn.
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, the borough council’s deputy leader and vice-chairman of Destination Chesterfield, said: “Once complete the scheme will bring much needed investment, jobs and spending power to the town centre, making it a better place to live, work and play.”