Town leaders and residents have told of their delight after Chesterfield councillors approved a revised Northern Gateway masterplan.
As reported by the Derbyshire Times last week, the new plan aims to improve the town’s northern entrance by summer 2019 – creating nearly 500 new jobs.
It will see:
- A major refurbishment of Saltergate multi-storey car park, which will see it modernised and the number of spaces increase from 408 to 529
- A business enterprise centre built on part of the Donut car park for start-up and small and medium sized businesses
- Environmental and street improvements to Elder Way and part of Knifesmithgate, including wider pavements to create a terrace area
The £19.9m revised project includes the £10.5m redevelopment of the Co-op store by Central England Co-operative and their partners Jomast Developments. They already have planning permission for a scheme which will include:
- A hotel on the first and second floors
- Six ground-floor restaurants
- A health and fitness centre in the basement
Premier Inn and Beefeater are two of the companies which will occupy the site.
The revised Northern Gateway project will be funded by a Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund grant of £5.83m and £3.5m from the borough council, with the Co-op redevelopment being paid for by the private sector.
Councillor John Burrows, the borough council’s leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said: "We had to completely rethink our original plans for the Northern Gateway after the closure of the Co-op building and the change in the economy which meant that large food retailers were no longer looking to build large new stores.
"But by working with the owners and developers of the Co-op building we are now able to deliver the restaurant and leisure aspects of the original scheme.
"At the same time the Saltergate multi-storey car park is reaching the end of its working life and has to be refurbished.
"By incorporating this into the scheme we can deliver a brighter and modern secure parking location which will meet the needs of shoppers, commuters, visitors and the hotel and restaurant users of the redeveloped Co-op store site.
"The addition of the enterprise centre to the plans enables us to meet the growing demand for business space in the town.
"Having a site like this in a town centre location will also support the existing town centre economy.
"The revised project is another example of how Chesterfield can benefit from gaining funding from the Sheffield City Region to deliver projects which will create jobs in Derbyshire."
Work on Saltergate multi-storey car park is due to start this November and to be completed in summer 2017.
The environmental improvements to Elder Way and Knifesmithgate will take place during 2017.
Work on the enterprise centre is expected to begin in summer 2018 and be completed by summer 2019, subject to planning permission being given.
The borough council said 489 jobs will be created.
A rethink of the original plans for the Northern Gateway began last year after it became clear that no large food retailer could be attracted to the site, which was necessary to make the rest of the scheme viable.
The original plan also included proposals for town centre housing. While this is not in the revised plan, it remains an option for the future.
Coun Burrows added: "The new parts of the revised scheme are in our hands which mean that we can directly control the delivery of them.
"We want to see more housing in the town centre area but I think it is important that we press on with the revised plan first and then look at that again once this work is well underway.
"But it is still very much a desire of ours to deliver more town centre housing."
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said he was 'delighted' with the new Northern Gateway plan.
He added: "This will provide hundreds of new jobs and boost the number of visitors coming into Chesterfield and rejuvenate our town centre economy.
"The Northern Gateway project is an important part of a prosperous future for our town.
"The changing economic landscape and changes in the retail market mean it has not been easy to get to this stage but I would like to commend Coun Burrows and the borough council for their tenacity in seeking new funding, developing partnerships and coming up with a new masterplan to ensure the project survived.
"It is timely that the money to pay for this should come from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership. It bodes well for the future."
Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), added: "The progress being made on the Northern Gateway project is very positive and will make the top end of the town centre more attractive to visitors and residents alike.
"That 500 jobs could be created once the scheme is finished is also very good news for the town."
Chesterfield residents' views on the Northern Gateway masterplan
On the streets of Chesterfield, Catherine Rogers, with her granddaughters Lucy Graham and Jessica Flint, said: "This is great news. I use the car park so I'm pleased to hear it's going to be modernised and have more spaces – it's quite run-down at the moment."
Les and Pauline Hayward said: "We're happy this area is going to be regenerated – it all sounds very promising. Nearly 500 new jobs is absolutely wonderful news. We look forward to seeing how it all progresses."
Paul Leverton, holding his grandson George Leverton, said: "Sadly, town centres are dying so it's great to hear about this idea of breathing new life into that part of Chesterfield. Let's hope it all actually happens. Bring it on!"
Gemma Wagstaff, with her children Jack and Emily, said: "Brilliant news! It's always good to see new development in the town centre – and new jobs."