Whether you think a billion has 12 zeros, like me, or 9, you can’t deny it’s a big number.
The 2018 Celebrate Chesterfield event at the Winding Wheel was full of big numbers, the headline being the £1billion (new style, 9 zeros!) of investment planned for projects in and around our town.
It’s an event which has been taking place for a number of years now, and I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but in the time I’ve been attending I’ll admit to becoming a bit jaded. I’d hear the same news each time, a list of things that might happen… But this year it felt different, very different; the dreams and ideas are actually taking shape, and I’d like to take my hat off to everyone who’s persevered to make it happen.
Hopefully you’ll have noticed the work on the old Co-op building and the changed skyline on the Donut, where the Saltergate Car Park has been demolished. There is a new roundabout just off the A61 at Dunston in preparation for the Peak Resort, and the near future should see further changes in many areas around town and beyond.
Huw Bowen (Chief Executive of Chesterfield Borough Council) took to the stage. He reflected upon the unique view of Chesterfield which the wheel provided earlier in the year, and outlined the plans for our town.
The Northern Gateway – A redevelopment scheme considering Holywell Cross Car park (the Donut), Elder Way and the surrounding area, the changes include:
- A £20millon scheme bringing the former Co-op building to life as a 89-bed Premier Inn due to open its doors this winter. Six family restaurants on the ground floor, a Gym and Fitness Centre plus a new landscaped street scene along Elder Way.
- Saltergate Car Park is now a pile of rubble, and a new 24/7 car-park is being built on the same site. Later in the year work will start to give us 530 spaces, and this time they’ll all be available for use! One floor of the old car park was closed to customers due to the repairs needed.
- A new incubation centre of office spaces and business support services for new and start-up businesses on a section of the Holywell Cross Car Park (the Donut).
The Peak Resort development on the 300-acre Birchall Estate. With funding from Sheffield City Region Grants the new roundabout, footpaths, bridleways and cycleways have been constructed. Enabling the almost £100 million first phase to commence, which includes;
- An 89 bed 4* Destination Hotel
- 5* Clubhouse Lodge
- Student & Leisure Hostel
- Peak Gateway Dome & Transport Hub
- Educational Campus working with Chesterfield College
- Indoor & Outdoor Activity & Adventure Centre
- Outdoor Events Spaces & Amphitheatre
- World Class Off Road Cycle School & Trails
- Car & Coach Parking
Peak Resort and the Premier Inn will support Chesterfield as an ambitious tourism destination, although it’s estimated 3.5 million people visited the areathere were only 135,000 beds occupied by visitors across the year.
Markham Vale continues to grow with Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish being the latest business to take space and bring new jobs to the area.
Chesterfield Waterside – The £75 million Phase One moves into the planning stage after an enablement grant from the Sheffield City Regions Infrastructure Fund of £2.7 million.
Chesterfield Train Station is at the forefront of HS2, bringing Chesterfield within 75 minutes of London and 35 minutes from Birmingham and Leeds. Together with planned station improvements and a new relief road improving links to The Peak District, it has never been easier to make the most of what our area has to offer.
Staveley will be the home to the HS2 Depot, an infrastructure and maintenance depot for the new HS2 link. This will lead to the Staveley Corridor development of Brownfield Sites with a new garden village consisting of 1500 homes plus a school and other infrastructure.
The Glass Yard on Sheffield Road is a development by Blue Deer who were responsible for the 131 Chatsworth Road site on the old fire station site and will include 18 office spaces and a contemporary barn style building, The Batch House, inspired by artisan food and retail halls found around Central Europe, such as Barcelona, Lisbon, Florence and Rome.
Closer to Huw’s base, the Town Hall is currently undergoing refurbishment in order to create space to let out to other public sector organisations. The Register Office will relocate to the Town Hall, and other council services will be brought back to the building, enabling their current bases to be sold or let.
Chesterfield’s tourist destinations have also seen success with Barrow Hill Roundhouse seeing a threefold increase in visitor numbers since the refurbishment and there are plans to refurbish the Winding Wheel.
Looking at Chesterfield town centre, Huw spoke of a ‘mixed picture’ of town centre occupancy figures of 92.4% compared to 87.8% nationally; so doing well. Outdoor stores Trespass and Go Outdoors have opened up, but Argos will soon move out of town to Sainsburys at Rother Way, and Maplins and Toys R Us have closed down.
Small independent businesses continue to open their doors, new real ale bars and artisan restaurants remain popular and provide quality spaces in which to relax and unwind for Chesterfield’s residents both young and old.
Chesterfield’s housing stock is to be increased over the next few years, many of the new developments are selling off-plan before being built, such is demand. In 2007 just 430 new homes were built in the region and since then we’ve ticked over at about 130 per year.
Targets for the next five years are 1705 homes. Schemes presently in progress will see 597 within the next 18 months, with no impact on the green belt, 62 new apartments to be delivered at Saltergate, with discussions in progress to ensure the target is achieved and even exceeded within the time frame!
Education didn’t miss a mention, with St. Peter and St. Paul ranked within the top 75 prep schools in the country. Chesterfield College and Derby University are also highly rated nationally, and give us a great skills base for the town. Supported by the college, Chesterfield’s Apprentice Town scheme saw 1450 apprentices start last year.
Later in the session Derby University’s Paula Holt (Dean, College of Health and Social Care) explained that the average age of students at the St Helena’s campus is 27; often people looking to retrain and progress in new areas for their careers. She is keen to develop business links, explaining that, by linking with the University, businesses have access to the entire skills base in the University and not just those skills on offer at the Chesterfield site. If your business would benefit from working with the University on a particular project, get in touch via email@example.com
Employment in Chesterfield is buoyant, fifty thousand positions this year up from forty-seven thousand in 2017. Unemployment sits at 2.1% last year, down from 4.1% in Jan 2013. Although we’re seeing a positive shift across the board, youth unemployment figures are higher than the national average, and work is ongoing in this area to support those seeking employment.
The presentation concluded with the first showing of the new promotional video for Chesterfield, (take a look at the S40 Local Facebook page for the link… Especially as one of the mountain bikers is yours truly!) and went on to stress how important it was for each of us to spread the positivity.
“Chesterfield’s not your typical market town,” Huw finished by saying, and it’s certainly looking that way.
The aim in this edition has been to provide you with an overall flavour of the activity and current situation in Chesterfield. Over the coming editions I’ll dig a little deeper into the detail of some of these schemes. Watch this space!