Ambitious Chesterfield tourism strategy hopes to attract more than 700,000 additional visitors a year

A visitor strategy that builds upon Chesterfield’s existing strengths has been put into action with hopes it will attract an additional 720,000 visitors a year by 2025, bringing an extra £30million to the borough.

By Christina Massey
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 12:21 pm

Chesterfield’s heritage, location and sustainable transport links will all be utilised by the Visitor Economy Strategy, which sets out plans to boost tourism between now and 2027.

Speaking to Chesterfield Borough Council’s Cabinet during a meeting yesterday, February 8, senior economic development officer Matthew Southgate explained the draft strategy was taken to consultation, with respondents asked to rate the importance of its key priorities .

He said: “The highest rated priority is actually quality of place, followed by cultural heritage and market events, and all of these are viewed as a high priority by almost 80 per cent of respondents.”

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PEAK will be an all year leisure, education, wellness and entertainment destination set in 300 acres of reclaimed parkland on the edge of the Peak District National Park and Chesterfield. The project is due to be completed in 2023

Mr Southgate continued: “Our general view and the view of the consultants was that the strategy strikes the right balance between ambition and realism.

“It’s really about making the best of the assets that we have available to us.”

He outlined that existing projects such as the market plans, Staveley Town Deal and Peak Resort would help the authority meet its tourism targets, but added the effect on climate would need to be taken into account.

“If this strategy is successful we will potentially attract 700,000 people by the end of 2025,” he said.

Market Square looking west from High Street

“Most of them will be arriving by car, that will have implications for carbon production.”

Mr Southgate said in order to mitigate this, the council hoped to make the town a more sustainable visitor hub in the future, using existing transport facilities such as the coach station and the mainline railway station.

Councillor Paul Holmes mentioned that there were several references in the strategy to HS2 and asked whether that was redundant now that high speed rail is no longer coming to Chesterfield.

Mr Southgate explained: “Theoretically, Chesterfield will still be receiving HS2 services at some point in the future.

Staveley Waterside deal

“It might not be on high speed lines, it might be on existing trainlines.”

Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt asked: “Is there a sense that people think that Chesterfield is a place to visit for the day and it’s not a place to visit for the weekend?

“Because that makes a huge difference to the kinds of things we develop.”

Mr Southgate confirmed 92 per cent of visitors to Chesterfield were day visitors, but added prior to Covid the hotel market in the town was strong with both commercial and leisure visitors.

Chesterfield Market Place .

The strategy identifies the need for more hotel provision to meet demand and explores how the council can support such development.

Deputy Leader Councillor Amanda Serjeant commented: “I welcome this report especially any implications it has for helping us achieve our ambitions on the council plan.

“One of our key aims is making Chesterfield a thriving borough and this strategy goes a lot of ways to outline exactly how we will do that, but also in terms of the jobs and the skills that could be brought through tourism.”

Members approved the strategy.

An artist's impression of how the Peak development will look, released several years ago.