Chesterfield council defends HS2 station masterplan after project labelled a potential 'white elephant'

Council leaders say they will be reviewing all responses to their masterplan for the Chesterfield station area after it was labelled a potential 'white elephant'.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:41 pm

Members of Chesterfield Borough Council's cabinet approved plans for the masterplan last month and a consultation on the project finishes on Monday.

Many groups have responded positively to the proposals, with Chesterfield and District Civic Society saying it broadly supports most elements of the plan.

Chairman Philip Riden said: "We are very happy to support the masterplan for the station and especially cheered by the repeated assurances by the council that funding for the project has been secured irrespective of what the Government finally decides concerning the eastern leg of HS2

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HS2 station masterplan view by Whittam Cox Architects

"Even if the line is not built, Chesterfield badly needs a new approach to the station, as it did in 1870, and we believe that this scheme is the best that could be achieved, given the constraints presented by the railway itself and the Inner Relief Road, which already compete with the river for space in the valley floor at this point.

"We hope that it goes ahead as soon as possible."

However campaigners from the Transition Chesterfield group described the masterplan as a 'huge missed opportunity' which risks 'becoming a white elephant within a few years' time'.

"There are many good objectives and stated intentions in the masterplan," the group said.

"Unfortunately there is a fundamental conflict in the plan which is caused by a design centred around a new road (yet to receive planning permission) and vehicle access, driven by a misguided idea that roads promote economic development."

A spokesperson for Chesterfield Borough Council said: “We have received the comments outlined through our consultation process.

"We will be responding to them along with all the other comments received after the consultation has ended, and of course that may result in changes to the masterplan.”

Chesterfield Borough Council leader Tricia Gilby described the masterplan as a way to harness the 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity presented by high speed railway HS2.

"But it's important to note that this plan can be delivered ahead of - and independently to - the national project if needed," she said.