Council bids for £20m to further boost Chesterfield town centre transformation

Plans to create a modern customer experience at the Stephenson Memorial Hall – which houses Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre and museum – are at the heart of a bid for almost £20million worth of Government funding submitted by Chesterfield Borough Council.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 7:34 am
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 8:58 am

The council’s bid to the Levelling Up Fund makes the case for an allocation of £11m towards the costs of a £15.6m project to remodel and refurbish Chesterfield’s landmark Stephenson Memorial Hall building

Under the plans, the refurbished hall would bring together under one roof an extended Pomegranate Theatre, a reconfigured and modern museum offering, alongside new gallery space, a café bar, education and community facilities.

If successful, the remaining £8.5m would be immediately allocated to further regenerate Chesterfield’s historic town centre, with investment centred on four key public spaces – Corporation Street, Rykneld Square, Market Square and New Square – and how these are connected to one another.

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The money would be used to extend the Pomegranate Theatre and create a reconfigured and modern museum offering, alongside new gallery space, a café bar, education and community facilities.

These spaces would have a range of flexible uses including markets, festivals, events, cultural celebrations, and community gatherings in a programme that will aim to complement the offering at Stephenson Memorial Hall and other key town centre assets such as the Crooked Spire and Market Hall Assembly Rooms.

The council says the funding would help create a vastly improved ‘public realm’ alongside new seating, landscaping, lighting, and signage, and a step change in digital connectivity.

The proposals are the next stage of the council’s ambitious plans to transform Chesterfield town centre and make sure the borough’s market traders, retailers and other employers are strongly positioned to recover from the long-term economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “We recognise the need to invest in Chesterfield town centre to make sure it remains a vibrant place for generations to come – providing great opportunities and experiences for local people and businesses, and keeping Chesterfield on the map as a go-to place for visitors.

“We’re already making significant progress on our £1billion borough-wide growth programme to create new jobs for local people, support new business start-ups, improve employability through better skills provision, revitalise former industrial sites and attract new investment.

“But our ambitions don’t stop there. Here in Chesterfield, we have a compelling story to tell and a prosperous future ahead of us – one which we firmly believe is deserving of further investment as part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

“The council’s bid seeks funding to invest in another round of ambitious projects which will further bolster our work to transform how Chesterfield town centre looks and feels, while creating a flagship visitor experience in one of the town’s most iconic and striking buildings.”

The Government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund is open to local councils to support investment in town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

Chesterfield Borough Council expects to hear in November 2021 whether its bid has been successful.

Elsewhere in the town centre, a revamp has seen improvements made to Elder Way – including the placing of high-quality paving and the planting of trees.

Mark Hill, of Jomast Developments – the company behind the conversion of the old Co-op said: “The recently completed improvements to Elder Way, made as part of the Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project, have transformed the area.”