Ambitious plans to transform Chesterfield’s landmark Co-op store into a £20 million hotel and leisure hub will be submitted next month – and the proposals are already causing a stir in town.
A planning application to convert the former Co-op department store on Elder Way into a hotel, restaurant and fitness centre, will be submitted during the week commencing October 12.
A decision from Chesterfield Borough Council is expected within eight weeks of submission, following a 21 day public consultation.
If approved, building work is likely to start in spring 2016 and developers aim to complete the project before Christmas.
The application includes an 89 bedroom budget hotel on the upper floor, six family restaurants on the ground floor, as well as a health and fitness area in the basement.
The building has remained empty since the department store closed down in July 2013. But now Central England Co-operative, which still owns the site, is working in partnership with Jomast Developments Ltd to transform the landmark – while still retaining many of its original features.
Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, took time-out from the Labour Party conference in Brighton to show his support. He said: “It looks like a really exciting plan. We need that iconic building putting to use, and a hotel and leisure hub in Chesterfield town centre will be a great boost for the town.”
Councillor John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “The former Co-op store is a really important site because it occupies such a large and prominent part of the town centre.
“However, as with all planning applications, the council will have to consider the application with an open mind, balancing all aspects of the scheme... before coming to a decision.”
Adam Hearld, development director for Jomast, said he could not specify which businesses would be moving in as “complex discussions” were ongoing.
But he would confirm a budget national hotel chain and national restaurant chains will be setting up.
Mr Herald said he estimated the combined cost of the development would exceed £20 million.
He said: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity to revitalise a significant landmark building and create a vibrant leisure destination... in the heart of Chesterfield town centre.”
He added: “There has been lots of interest from national chains wanting to come to Chesterfield town centre, because there is no real leisure destination.
“At the moment it is very fragmented, and this is why businesses have been so interested in this leisure hub.”
Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said it was a “huge blow” to Chesterfield when the Co-op closed, but said he was pleased the building could be brought back into use to boost the town.
Peter Swallow, chairman of Destination Chesterfield, said: “I’m delighted that the potential of the former Co-op building has been recognised by investors. It has a prime spot in the town and plays a key role in the town centre master plan... redevelopment of the former Co-op store will further enhance the town’s offering, helping us attract further town investment as well as make us a go to destination for shoppers and tourists.”
Reader comments on the new plans
Opinion was split between readers who follow Derbyshire Times on social media. Here are a few of the comments...
Stephanie Conquest said: “Love it. It will create lots of jobs and a gym in the town centre is great because most gyms are out of town.”
Nicky Beards said: “The hotel and gym idea seems ridiculous when Chesterfield Hotel stands empty not five minutes walk away.”
Carol Downes said: “Love it. It’s time the building was used and not for building societies, charity shops and pound shops.”
Sharron Ann Shepherd said: “Excellent news. New jobs and far better than empty premises.”
Alys Brierley said: “I don’t use gyms, I don’t stay at hotels or go to restaurants. Could this be made into something actually useful to people from Chesterfield?”
John Belli said: “Anyone been to Affleck’s Palace, in Manchester? Something along those lines would be good for the town.
“That was converted from an old department store many years ago.”
Karl Crawford said: “Bring Woolworths back and let them have it.”
John Stevenson said: “Any development and step forward is a positive one.”