Record investment shows Chesterfield is ‘a good place to do business, live and have fun’
“People in our communities will be able to thrive in this town, not just survive.”
That is the message from the leader of Chesterfield council as the town begins to reap the benefit of some £1 billion of investment.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council leader, and Neil Johnson, council assistant director for economic growth, took the Derbyshire Times on a tour of some of the town centre sites which are set to be transformed in the coming years.
Coun Gilby says: “We really are a magnet for investment for Chesterfield, £1bn of future invesment.
“People in our communities will be able to thrive in this town, not just survive.
“The people of Chesterfield will see sites that have laid dormant since the closing of heavy engineering and the pits come alive again, to be bustling places of enterprise and commerce, as well as places to live and enjoy the leisure.
“Out towards Staveley, we will see new homes around the canal and new factories built, creating new jobs - a projected 10,000 new jobs for the town. That will have a great impact on young people, giving them access to jobs in the rail industry and in other industries that will provide them a good living for their future.
“I think the secret to Chesterfield’s success is partly in its location, right in the centre of the country, within easy access of the M1, railways and two regional airports, but on top of that we have a highly-skilled workforce as well.
“Young people in this area come out with better-than-national-average qualifications from school and then go on to excellent further education and higher education opportunities
“We are a university town and we make the most of that, working with the University of Derby, Chesterfield College and other business partners to market the town to its best potential and the Chesterfield Champions, local businesses, are at the forefront of that, presenting the town as a good place to do business, live and have fun.”
CHESTERFIELD RAILWAY STATION
Chesterfield has been earmarked as a stop on the new HS2 high-speed railway line between London and Leeds – and a masterplan to transform the station area has been drawn up and is set to go out to public consultation later this year.
Coun Gilby said: “HS2 is a game-changer for the town, it will redraw the economic map – we’re looking at 5,000 new homes, 4,000 new jobs, investment coming into the town of £270 million and that will mean that communities that haven’t had investment since the pits closed will benefit.
“We are getting ready for HS2. We have a masterplan in place for Chesterfield station which will put up new buildings and frame the Crooked Spire, so when people arrive in Chesterfield, they will see where the Crooked Spire is and have a clear route into the town centre."
Mr Johnson said: “The draft masterplan we’re preparing at the moment is for consultation in May or June.
“I think the opportunity for Chesterfield is to create some commercial and residential development for the area and that means more jobs for the people of Chesterfield and means more investment as well.
“Chesterfield is on quite a a good trajectory at the moment in terms of economic growth and I think HS2 and the station masterplan give an opportunity to accelerate that.”
THE CHESTERFIELD HOTELMembers of the council’s planning committee have just granted permission for the landmark, but derelict former hotel to be demolished.
However, opinion among residents is split, with many having fond memories of times spent in the hotel, close to Chesterfield railway station.
Coun Gilby says: “I’ve got fond memories of the building as well, I held my first wedding reception there, but we’re living for the future, not the past.
“We have approved the demolition of the building at the request of the owners and are now talking to the owners about the future use of the site
“When its levelled, we’re looking at class A office space there. We’re busy preparing plans which will be brought to the council’s planning committee early in spring.”
The developers behind the Chesterfield Waterside scheme to transform the neighbouring former Arnold Laver timber yard and Trebor Bassett factory sites describe it as a “£340 million, high-quality, mixed-use scheme set on a canalside environment, on the edge of the town centre”.
Coun Gilby says: "This development is extremely important to Chesterfield. It will bring in new commercial development, as well as new homes.
“The homes are starting on site now and the quality of the houses that I have seen is fantastic, plus the local amenites, such as Tapton Park and Chesterfield Canal, are not to be beaten.
“On the commercial aspect, we will see a hotel, multi-storey car park and buy-to-let apartments.
“The first building to go up will be a six-storey, class A, quality office block, the first class-A office space built in Chesterfield for some time. Building will start on that in spring, with a view to that being completed this time next year – we already have tenants very interested in it.
“The block will provide 300 mostly new jobs and that is a boost to our economy.”
Mr Johnson said: "I think it’s important to get more footfall in the town centre. One of those ways is to put more residential development in and that is what is happening at Chesterfield Waterside, as they’re already on with creating that commercial and residential space in an edge-of-town development.”
The Northern Gateway scheme incorporates three phases to transform the northern entrance to the town centre.
The old Saltergate multi-storey car park has already been demolished and replaced by a new, modern car park.
Coun Gilby says: “The car park is absolutely superb. It has wide parking spaces, it operates 24 hours a day and it is safe and secure.”
The first artist’s impression of a planned new enterprise centre on part of the Holywell Cross car park, inside the ‘Donut’ roundabout, was unveiled last week.
An archaeological dig has been carried out on the site, but this has now been completed and work on the enterprise centre is set to begin within weeks.
Coun Gilby said: “We didn’t find any kings under our car park, but we did find some really interesting artefacts that tell us more about the history of Chesterfield.
“It will be the site of the council’s new enterprise centre, featuring 32 new office units.
“Young people are now telling us that when they start a business, they prefer to be in a town centre and this town centre location gives them easy access to other business and makes it easy for their customers to get to them.”
The final part of the Northern Gateway is Elder Way.
A Premier Inn hotel opened in the former Co-op building last year, while restaurants and a health and fitness centre are planned for the bottom two floors.
Work is also planned to transform the street in a bid “to forge an important link between the new Premier Inn, the town centre and the new multi-storey car park”. Plans include widening the pavement, improving pedestrian crossings, removing some street furniture and introducing trees.
Coun Gilby said: “The Premier Inn opened in spring 2019 and is reporting occupation rates of above 90 per cent at weekends and 60 per cent in the week – that is absolutely excellent. It says Chesterfield is a place that people want to do business, but also says Chesterfield is place they want to visit.
“The high occupancy rates show people really want to come to Chesterfield, not just to see the Crooked Spire, but also to enjoy our cultural offerings, which include excellent shows at the Winding Wheel and the Pomegranate and, dare I say it, the football at the Proact.
“It has brought back into use the old Co-op building and very shortly we will be starting on the public realm works, improving the pavements and roadways on Elder Way.
“It will be single-file traffic primarily for buses and taxis, that will enable the businesses on the ground-floor, mainly restaurants, to be able to spread out onto the pavement, to create that continental-style of dining.
“We have three firm inquiries for the space on the ground floor of the building and there are other companies in the pipeline for the other units, so we remain confident that by the time the public realm works are completed, there will be businesses in there.”