Council wish list outlines five ideas to improve Chesterfield town centre

Chesterfield town centre.
Chesterfield town centre.

A Chesterfield Borough Council report has suggested five ideas on how the town centre can be improved.

One of the suggestions is that all market stalls be moved on to the main market square, freeing up New Square for a 'flexible event space' for 'more regular and more diverse events such as film festivals, food markets and live music'.

The other ideas put forward include:

► A review of the market;

► Improved signage, cleanliness and connectivity between areas;

► Measures, such as attaining Purple Flag status, to bring more life to the town during currently quiet periods;

► A new tagline for the town.

The report, compiled by the Overview and Performance Scrutiny Forum, states: "Chesterfield has been a market town for over 800 years.

"In order to succeed for another 800 years, we need to evolve with the times and find new ways to deliver the town centre experience that continues to attract residents and visitors.

"However, success must be based on much more than retail and the changes in shopping habits need to be recognised.

"For the town to become busier and more vibrant it needs increased footfall – that will come about by improving the retail, cultural, entertainment and evening offering but also encouraging the growth of town centre living."

The report adds: "People regularly voice comments like 'Chesterfield isn't what it used to be!'

"They're right - it isn't, nor is anywhere.

"The world has changed and will continue to evolve.

"Retail and leisure habits bear no relation to those of years ago."

Councillor Amanda Serjeant, the council's deputy leader, said: "Town centres across the country are changing and all towns, including Chesterfield, are adapting to those changes.

"That is why the council has approved a number of planning applications, such as at the former North East Derbyshire District Council headquarters and the old Post Office, which will see housing developed in town centre locations.

"It is also why we have the Northern Gateway project to develop more of a leisure based offer in town, as the growth of online shopping means that spending is moving away from retail to leisure based activities.

"It is with that in mind that our scrutiny committee has looked in depth at this issue and some potential options that could happen if money was no object. In the future they will present these ideas to cabinet and we will have to assess how viable they are.

"As the report makes clear a number of the recommendations would have significant financial implications at a time when the council is facing further cuts on top of the 60 per cent reduction in Government funding we have already had since 2010."

A council spokesman added: "Some of the initiatives suggested are already happening, such as the move to attract more events to areas like New Square, and moves to seek external funding to reconfigure the market area."