‘Perfect time’ to transform Chesterfield railway station
Rail users say it is the “perfect time” to regenerate the area around Chesterfield train station after it emerged the nearby Chesterfield Hotel is to be bulldozed.
Plans have been drawn up to transform the area into a gateway to the town – and were given a boost this week when permission was granted to demolish the boarded-up Chesterfield Hotel, opening up the site for development.
And passengers and residents are calling for work to begin on delivering the “HS2 Chesterfield Station Master Plan”.
Steve Grainger, aged 70, visiting Chesterfield from Tamworth, said: "The area does look a bit tired.
"If they are knocking down the hotel it seems a perfect time to smarten the area up."
And Katie Green, 20, said: "It would be nice if they did this area up a bit. It has character in some ways, but it is a bit bleak."
The plan has been drawn up as Chesterfield is included as a planned stop on the new HS2 high-speed railway between London and Leeds, via Birmingham.
And Destination Chesterfield, which promotes the borough as a place to invest, work, live and visit, says HS2 is “already driving major regeneration of the town centre and adjacent industrial areas”.
Council bosses say the master plan is now being finalised ahead of a public consultation later this year.
Plan objectives include “attracting economic investment, improving connectivity, encourage global tourism to the area and creating a wow factor on arrival".
Chesterfield-based Whittam Cox Architects has produced a “fly-through video” of how the site could look, featuring office blocks, public open space, a new bridge and water feature and incorporating the Grade II-listed North Midland House, the former railway engineers' offices on Corporation Street, now home to Spire insurance.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council leader, said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Chesterfield and a top priority for the council, so we are calling on the government to commit to securing HS2 in the East Midlands.“HS2 will redraw the economic map for Chesterfield; with better connectivity for the one million people already living within 30 minutes of the station and will create 4,740 new homes and 10,220 new jobs. “We are in the process of finalising the station master plan and will be going out to consultation later this year.“The master plan will define our aspirations for the economic future of the area, and we continue to work closely with partner agencies to maximise this huge opportunity for the area.“The station area is a long-term regeneration priority for the borough, and a key aspect of the station masterplan consultation will be improving access and connectivity to the station for all users.”
She said the council was also working with owner of The Chesterfield Hotel “to discuss different proposals for the future use of the site”.
The Chesterfield HS2 master plan complements the neighbouring Chesterfield Waterside scheme, where work is already under way to deliver the £340 million mixed-use scheme including hundreds of homes, a hotel, offices, leisure facilities and a new canal basin.
The Waterside scheme is split into five “neighbourhoods”, including Station Place, by the station, featuring “a high-density collection of buildings including a hotel, offices, luxury apartments and a car park”.
A spokesman said: “Shops and cafes will surround the area, creating an urban square.”
However, while plans for the first phase of HS2, between London and Birmingham, have been approved by parliament, the scheme, planned to reach Chesterfield by 2033, has been mired in controversy.
Just this week, Lord Berkeley, Anthony Gueterbock, deputy chairman of the HS2 review panel, said its costs were “out of control” and it was likely to cost more than £108 billion, nearly twice the £55bn cost set five years ago.
He said the money should instead be spent on local rail improvements in the north, with the benefits promised by HS2 better realised by focusing on existing services.
There have also been calls for a pedestrian crossing close to the station, to assist passengers walking between the station and town centre.
However, a spokesman for Derbyshire County Council, which is responsible for the county’s highways, said: “Improvements were carried out to the area some time ago to make it safer for pedestrians to use.
“These included widening the footpath on the way up to the footbridge over the bypass towards Corporation Street and narrowing the road, which make it easier to cross.
“There is also traffic calming on Crow Lane, which slows traffic down on that stretch.
“Visibility in the area is good for pedestrians as they can easily see what is coming and there is a good safety record for the area around the station.
“There are redevelopments plans for the area however, so this could change the layout of footpaths and the road infrastructure in the future.”