Look to Chesterfield as the template for development

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As a tup living in Totley I am reminded of the long struggle of the ordinary people of Chesterfield in the early 1970s, regarding the redevelopment of the markets and town centre.

Our council decided that Chesterfield needed complete redevelopment.

This “much-needed” removal of two outdoor markets, the medieval street pattern of the Shambles, demolition of the Victorian market hall, removal of several architecturally important buildings was deemed to be progressive and commercially imperative.

The developer chosen by our leaders who proposed a scheme described as of the scale and prestige as Brent Cross, was Hammerson.

A groundswell of opinion began a long and frustrating campaign to convince the council of the error of their ways and eventually resulted in Hammerson pulling out of the deal.

Further delay and insecurity for many local businesses ensued while alternative plans were put in place.

All this took place nearly 40 years ago. The legacy is a town centre with open markets surrounded by a diverse streetscape of architectural styles spanning 500 years, the envy of less enlightened local authorities all over England.

I wonder why Sheffield should have allowed virtually the same scenario to have dragged out over the much discussed Sevenstone project when the same developers and the council’s insistence on progressive and commercially imperative seem oddly familiar.

Let’s hope that some of the decision makers bother to go and look at Chesterfield’s solution.

It takes courage to scale back the aspirations of the developers to keep the character of the place intact.

You still have a chance to be seen as pioneers, creating an alternative to Meadowhall not an ill-conceived inappropriate clone.

JB Scattergood

S17