The final pieces of work are being completed at Chesterfield’s Elder Way development – which aims to transform the old Co-op into a food and drinks quarter.
The department store became an iconic part of the town centre across its 75 years, but was forced to close in July 2013 amid a drop in demand.
After a Premier Inn opened on the first and second floors of the site in April 2019, it is hoped that restaurants, bars and cafés will soon take on the ground floor units. Jomast, who are responsible for the development, are continuing to liaise with several potential new additions to Chesterfield’s town centre.
Anna Melton, PR manager for the Elder Way development, said: “The units at Elder Way are pretty much ready for tenants. We’re just finishing off the last couple, boarding them out and plastering them.
“We’re talking to a number of potential occupiers and we’re really excited about it.
“The regeneration that has taken place around Elder Way is, the Premier Inn has been open for a while now and it’s a really popular hotel, so whichever tenants move into our units have already got a ready made customer base.”
There are eight ground floor units at the site, as well as a large basement – although some of these can be divided in two if smaller businesses are interested in taking them on. These spaces are designed to be flexible, offering tenants a blank canvas which they can configure to meet their own needs.
As part of a £1.2m public realm improvement scheme by Chesterfield Borough Council last year, the pavements on Elder Way were widened and trees were planted, creating a pedestrian-friendly outdoor dining space.
The Co-op conversion is part of the £19.9m Northern Gateway project, led by Chesterfield Borough Council, which aims to transform the northern entrance to the town. This has seen the Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre built on the donut roundabout, as well as a new multi-storey car park on Saltergate.
The council hope the developments will help more local businesses to grow, and complement their innovation centres at Dunston and Tapton Park.
Coun Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, previously told the Derbyshire Times that the Northern Gateway – alongside a number of other schemes across the town – is crucial in ensuring that Chesterfield flourishes in the future.
“In the next few months we will see the opening of the Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre, One Waterside Place and the first elements of PEAK resort. These will all help create new and innovative economic opportunities in our borough.
“Our ambitious investment and regeneration projects, together with those from our public and private sector partners, mean we’re in a strong place to recover from the impact of the pandemic at a faster rate than many other towns and create lots of exciting opportunities for our community.
“Together all these projects will help ensure our borough is in a strong position for a prosperous future. They will create new jobs and skills opportunities for local residents, ensuring that our borough thrives in the modern world.”
Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Scott Knowles, has echoed Cllr Gilby in the past, and said these sorts of developments will set Chesterfield apart from other towns in the Midlands.
“Chesterfield, of course, is already superbly located at the gateway to the Peak District, one of the UK’s most popular national parks, while also within both Derby and Sheffield’s sphere of influence.
“By adding new facilities and infrastructure via these ongoing development schemes, it has a very exciting future ahead – with the potential to cement its position as one of the leading towns in the Midlands.”
The Northern Gateway project is funded in part by a Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund grant of £5.83m. The council has contributed £6.5m to the scheme, with the Co-op redevelopment being paid for by Jomast.
It has been nine years since the Co-op department store closed its doors for the final time. The land on Elder Way was purchased in 1932 by the Chesterfield & District Co-operative Society, although their first town centre store was on West Bars, which opened in 1903.
The premises on Elder Way opened in 1938, with a further expansion of the store in 1959. A new food-hall and office complex was completed in 1981, linked by a glass bridge over Elder Way – which was eventually demolished in 2018 as part of the redevelopment. More information about Elder Way can be found here: https://www.elderway.co.uk