Start-ups, consolidation and inward investment has resulted in 310 more businesses being established in Chesterfield post pandemic than prior to March 2020.
Dr Huw Bowen, chief executive of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “We’ve come through the pandemic in pretty good shape and demand for commercial space has gone through the roof.
“However, the Levelling Up funding is important to getting our high street back to where we want it to be. We need to work together like never before post-pandemic.”
Over 250 business delegates and local politicians attended the event at the Winding Wheel which focused on The Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield programme which will see key spaces in the town centre regenerated and reimagined, including Market Place, New Square, Burlington Street and Packers Row, Corporation Street and the George Stephenson Memorial Hall.
Chesterfield has received nearly £20m of Levelling Up funding to transform Chesterfield Town Centre. The funding, which is being matched by £6m of investment from Chesterfield Borough Council, will underpin the Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield improvement plan.
The delivery of the improvement plan is expected to increase land value in the town centre by 16% and shop occupancy levels to more than 90%. This will support the creation of around 100 new jobs in the town centre.
The refurbishment and remodelling of the George Stephenson Memorial Hall will bring together a theatre, cinema, bar, café and exhibition space in one asset to allow greater cultural inclusion and participation.
In addition to the creation of new outdoor dwelling and entertainment space, the town centre will have a new lighting strategy and greater data connectivity to enable digital wayfinding, smart street lighting, predictive maintenance, and environmental monitoring.
Coun Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said the work will begin this spring, and is due to be completed in 2025. She added it will make the town more attractive to visitors.
“Following the fantastic news that we were successful in our bid for almost £20m from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund late last year, we’re also wasting no time in bringing forward more ambitious plans for significant investment in the future of our town centre.
“Our Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project is a major regeneration scheme that will make sure our town centre can thrive for generations to come. Our plans will revitalise and better connect key areas of our historic town centre and revamp the striking Stephenson Memorial Hall. It will also complement work to regenerate Chesterfield Market and the Northern Gateway and - at the other side of town - will connect with plans to transform the area around Chesterfield Station.
“We want Chesterfield town centre to be a place of opportunity for residents and businesses, and a valued destination for visitors. These projects will go a long way to helping us achieve this ambition by enhancing our cultural offer and creating new experiences in and around the town’s most iconic building - the Crooked Spire - and our historic market.”
At the event it was revealed that construction on a new southern link road into Chesterfield Train Station will begin later this year as part of the council’s commitment to create ‘a sense of arrival’ in the town.
Construction of the new road follows the relocation of Jewson builders’ merchants to a new purpose-built site on Sheffield Road from its current position on Spa Lane next to Chesterfield Train Station. Demolition of the Chesterfield Hotel will also commence later this year.
The masterplan includes a range of proposals to overhaul the area between the station and Corporation Street. A new public boulevard will be created and the footbridge over the A61 will be replaced with a wider bridge - both of which will include segregated cycle lanes.
The project would also incorporate a range of new development plots, with the potential to generate a minimum of 850 jobs, as well as a ‘transport hub’ with a multi-storey car park and charging points for electric vehicles.
The Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre, part of a £19.9m scheme to breathe new life into the northern entrance to Chesterfield town centre, is also preparing to open its doors after construction delays caused by the pandemic.
Coun Gilby said: “The Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre is nearing completion and is on schedule to welcome businesses in the next couple of months.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from potential tenants and we intend to start showing businesses around very soon. This is a key development because it marks the conclusion of phase one of the Northern Gateway vision. It will offer small businesses a fantastic location to start and to grow through our successful innovation centre model.
“This will create more jobs for local people within easy access of the town centre and will contribute to our economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The centre will include 32 high quality office suites in a range of sizes and has sustainability at its heart, having been designed to minimise its impact on the environment and achieve considerable efficiencies in energy use.
It will have 24/7 access, an IT fibre connection which offers maximum speed multi-bandwidth capability, Wi-Fi and air conditioning throughout. Each office will benefit from access-controlled doors and CCTV coverage will be available in internal communal areas and external areas.
Within the centre itself, there will be a shared reception and lobby area, two meeting rooms, a break-out area and kitchenettes, bicycle storage, shower and changing facilities, lift access and individually metered power supplies.
These office spaces will be offered on easy, in and out letting terms and tenants will also benefit from access to a range of other council services and venues, including business support and corporate rates for leisure passes, parking permits and conferencing facilities.
At the event, there was also an update on PEAK - an all-year leisure, education, wellness and entertainment destination set in 300 acres of reclaimed parkland in Unstone.
Work is set to begin in 2023 on the first phase of the project, which includes an indoor adventure activity centre, outdoor water courses and a lake. It is scheduled to launch in 2025. Councillor Dean Collins, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “PEAK Resort is a major regeneration project that will be a significant national and international visitor attraction with sustainable tourism, education and learning at its heart.
“It will create more jobs for local people, it will also play a key role in our Visitor Economy Strategy, bringing more visitors and demand for services to the borough which in turn will support our local economy.
“We’ve worked closely with the developers for many years now and have every confidence in their ability to bring forward this major development. We want to ensure that we can create better connections between PEAK and the wider borough to maximise the economic benefits for all.”
Coun Gilby: added: “2022 is already proving to be a landmark year for Chesterfield with the construction of the Enterprise Centre and One Waterside Place, both symbols throughout the pandemic that Chesterfield is always open and ready to do business.
“Alongside regeneration projects and new developments, Chesterfield Borough Council is invested in supporting the future of young people and local residents. We want better jobs and more jobs for local people. Our local labour clauses in contracts have created more than 800 local jobs in the last year alone with many of them being apprenticeships.
“We are fortunate to have both Chesterfield College and a University of Derby campus in the town centre. Together, they are supporting more than 10,000 students and apprentices, helping us to have a skilled workforce and attract further businesses to invest in the borough of Chesterfield.”