BREAKING NEWS: Chesterfield’s Northern Gateway scheme goes back to the drawing board after anchor tenant isn’t found

Northern Gateway public space
Northern Gateway public space

Plans for the Northern Gateway have gone back to the drawing board as Chesterfield Borough Council has been unable to secure a large food store for the scheme.

The authority revealed today that the proposal is being reassessed to respond to the ‘changing high street retail sector.’

The council said several store closures due to the economic downturn could not be predicted when the scheme was announced, particularly the decision by the Co-op to close their shop on a large and prominent site near the Northern Gateway site.

This - combined with the significant growth of internet shopping and a trend for large retailers to focus on smaller stores - has meant no large food store anchor tenant has been found to be the focus of the scheme.

So the council has decided to reconsider the scheme, taking into account the desire to boost the fortunes of the Victoria Centre and consider how that retail area sits alongside the Northern Gateway scheme.

And also to consider the implications of the University of Derby buying the nearby St Helena Centre to turn into a £3.5 million campus and the Homes and Communities Agency acquiring the former Primary Care Trust land with a view to using it for new housing.

Councillor John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council and executive member for regeneration, said: “Much has changed in a very short space of time in the retail sector but also on key nearby sites owned by other organisations or companies.

“The town centre is pivotal to the borough so we have decided that we need to pause and reflect on the implications of these many factors on the Northern Gateway scheme as originally envisaged.

“We need to consider if the scheme is able to work alongside desires to bring the former Co-op building back into use and to improve the occupancy rates at the Victoria Centre and in surrounding streets.

“Buildings like the Co-op are not in our ownership but we are working with landowners to get them back into use so that we attract more shoppers and leisure users to that part of town.”

The council has decided to explore future options with the Northern Gateway scheme’s reserve bidder Muse Developments after Wilson Bowden agreed to end their partnership with the authority.

As previously announced, no work is expected to take place on site this year.

The scheme aims to create a high quality shopping, restaurant and leisure development on land surrounding the Donut roundabout site.