Chesterfield set to reap benefits of rise in town-centre living
Town centre living is on the rise – and Chesterfield is well placed to take advantage of it.
Plans are in place for hundreds of flats and apartments across a number of developments in the centre of Chesterfield, which property and economy experts believe will contribute to a thriving town centre.
A block of 34 apartments are planned for land off Basil Close, while Burlington House, on Burlington Street, could be extended and converted into 66 apartments, alongside several smaller schemes nearby.
Coun Kate Sarvent, Chesterfield Council cabinet member for town centre and visitor economy, said: “Creating more high-quality housing in the town centre will help ensure we have a thriving town centre for the future.
“As well as being a place to work, shop and socialise, the town centre will be an excellent place to live and providing well-located homes in the town centre means there will be even more customers for businesses based there, which will help boost the local economy.”
Plans to convert an 1890s building, at the junction of High Street and Packers Row, into flats and a shop were given the green light in November.
The Tamcourt Group wants to create eight dwellings, including one-bedroom studios, one and two-bedroom apartments and a third-floor extension on the building’s flat roof for two one-bedroom apartments.
Conditional permission has also been granted for 34 apartments on land at the junction of Basil Close and Brewery Street.
In October, members of Chesterfield Council’s planning committee provisionally backed WestOne Capital Group’s planning application to build a 133-room hotel and the apartments, along with a café and restaurant, dependent on a number of conditions, including completion of a mining study and payment of a Community Infrastructure Levy, being met.
Permission was granted in 2019 to Wingerworth-based Leverton UK to transform the prominent Grade II-listed former Department of Health and Social Security building at 87 New Square, overlooking Market Place, into nine apartments.
Former Post Office to be transformed
And a scheme to transform the Grade-II listed former Chesterfield Post Office, on Market Place, into apartments was given the go-ahead in 2018.
The plans for 10 residential apartments on the first and second floors and refurbishment of the ground floor retail unit took a step forward when the building was sold to Balmoral Investment & Development in 2019.
Decisions are also awaited on applications seeking permission to transform the vacant first and second-floor office and retail accommodation of Burlington House into 40 apartments, as well as to construct 22 duplex apartments on two levels above the existing second floor.
A conservation report by heritage specialist Dr Ramona Usher, carried out as part of the application, says: “Burlington House is an unremarkable edifice, redolent of the 1970s’ redevelopments in the town centre. The study site is currently vacant and, as such, detracts from the historic core of the town. However, the proposed development desires to regenerate this building and consequently the area.”
Paul Swinney and Andrew Carter, from urban policy research unit Centre for Cities, have written a report examining the boom in city centre living.
They said: “Only 30 years ago, inner-city populations that had grown rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries had dwindled – the residents leaving cramped, urban housing for more spacious suburbs and new towns.
“The reversal that has taken place – especially in the north of England and the Midlands – demonstrates a dramatic urban renaissance and a shift in how people want to live.”
Their study found many of the cities had large proportions of students living in the centres, but the growing number of high-skilled, high-paying office jobs available had also been a “big pull” for young professionals.
They said: “All of these jobs have created a market for gyms, restaurants, bars and shops.
“This in turn has made city centre living even more appealing – with closeness to amenities outweighing downsides like smaller living spaces, noise and pollution.”
‘Excellent value for money’
And property experts suggest Chesterfield is well-placed to take advantage of this move towards urban living, even if a year of lockdown has sparked a rise in the desire for gardens.
Ian Marriott, joint head of Savills residential sales at estate agent Savills Nottingham, which covers Chesterfield, said: “While more garden and outdoor areas – as well as homes with a separate space to work – are currently top of buyer wishlists up and down the country, town centre living is still an attractive proposition for many.
“What puts places like Chesterfield at a distinct advantage is not only does it represent excellent value for money, but it is incredibly convenient for commuters working in cities such as Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, each of which can be reached in under an hour.
“Direct trains to London in under two hours is also hugely appealing for buyers and this is something that has been underlined by the popularity in the East Midlands, more generally, with a significant rise in London postcodes registering with us over the last year.”
Tom Parker, consumer spokesman at property website Zoopla, said: “For those looking for urban living, with easy access to the countryside and Peak District, Chesterfield has a lot to offer.
“Things to enjoy right on your doorstep include the famous Chesterfield Market, pedestrian-friendly town centre and plenty of independent shops.”
Coun Sarvent said: “By living in Chesterfield town centre, people have our famous market and many independent shops on their doorstep as well as great transport links.
“There is significant investment in the town centre at the moment, improving spaces for outdoor dining from cafes, and redeveloping the market space into a contemporary market, which all add to the town centre being a popular part of Chesterfield to live in.”