£3.25million plan to revitalise the heart of Chesterfield
After a year like no other, traders can’t wait to welcome shoppers back to Chesterfield town centre.
Non-essential retail is expected to reopen on April 12 as coronavirus restrictions ease – and members of the public are being urged to shop local.
Meanwhile, new life is set to be breathed into the town’s historic market as part of the £3.25million Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project.
Chesterfield Borough Council has confirmed it is working to ‘develop options for the market design’ and these will be available for comment as part of a consultation this summer.
Following this, it is expected work will be finished in spring next year.
When the Derbyshire Times visited Chesterfield town centre on Thursday, Luke Povey, who has been a trader for four years and sells antiques from his stall, said he welcomed plans to revamp the market, describing this as ‘long overdue’.
“Personally, I’d like to see the creation of space which can accommodate things like regular events and attractions, to bring more footfall and custom to the area,” he added.
Steph Mannion, who has run a zero waste stall at Chesterfield market for three years, agreed, saying: “Previous events and attractions – like the big wheel and vintage car show – attracted thousands and thousands of people to the town centre and this, of course, was great for local traders and businesses.”
In February, council chiefs said they were working on bringing regular events and activities to Chesterfield town centre – to boost visitor numbers and help the area bounce back from the pandemic.
Both Luke and Steph also called for the market to be ‘spruced up a bit and made to look more attractive’ as well as reduced parking charges.
They are keen to see more promotion of the market and the fact that rents are ‘not sky-high as some people believe’.
Steph said: “It currently costs me £10 each time I hold my stall – that’s lower compared to other places and I think we should shout about that more to hopefully attract more traders.”
They also want more empty town centre buildings to be transformed into both housing and accommodation for ‘pop-up shops’.
In December, Chesterfield Borough Council invited people to take part in surveys to help shape the future of the market.
According to the results, 72 per cent of the public, 46 per cent of traders, and 89 per cent of local businesses supported changing the layout of the market.
Councillor Kate Sarvent, cabinet member for town centres and visitor economy, said: “Work is now underway to develop options for the market design and these will be available for comment as part of a consultation with the public, market traders and local businesses this summer.
“Chesterfield market is the heart and soul of the town.
“It’s crucial that we work together with residents, traders and local businesses to make sure improvements meet their needs.
“It was fantastic to receive hundreds of responses to our surveys, which shows the market means so much to everyone in Chesterfield.”
‘Support local’ plea
Luke urged people to support local traders and businesses when restrictions ease – insisting the town centre ‘is a safe place to shop’.
The Derbyshire Times, the council and Destination Chesterfield are all supporting the reopening of the high street next month – and urging the public to shop local.
Coun Sarvent said: “It will be great to see the start of the reopening of our town centre and high streets this April.
“It is, however, essential that we keep our own and everyone else’s safety in mind when we go back to shopping locally in Chesterfield to make sure our town centre stays open.
“I urge everyone to continue with hands, face and space as we start to reopen.
“Our local shops and retailers have worked so hard over lockdown, offering click and collect and delivery options, but it has been a massive struggle for businesses and now it’s up to us to get back out shopping locally.
“Our businesses really need your support.
“Spending a few pounds a week with local businesses will make a massive difference to them.
“It’s been convenient to shop online but let’s do more of that with local businesses and also shop safely with them once again in our town centre and high streets.”
She added: “Chesterfield is a fantastic place to shop.
“We pride ourselves on being a friendly town, with many great independent businesses who are ready to welcome everyone back.
“So, come back and support your town this April.”
Peter Swallow, chair of Destination Chesterfield, added: “The lifting of restrictions on non-essential retail is very much welcomed and further progress in the high street’s journey towards normality.
“Seeing our favourite businesses adapt with online shopping and click and collect services during lockdown has been inspiring, but shopping in Chesterfield is an experience that can't be replicated at home.
“Lockdown has shown us all the importance of the high street and the contribution it makes not only to the economy but to the lives of local people and I would encourage everyone to support the high street and shop local to help the many businesses based on it in their recovery.”
The plans to revamp Chesterfield market are part of the Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project.
The scheme will also include improvements to the public space between the town centre and the Northern Gateway site.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, council leader, said: “The Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project will allow us to bring new life to our town centre and famous outdoor market, enabling us to attract more footfall and visitor spend, which will help support our local businesses and allow them to thrive.”