New life for centre

Cllr Brian Ridgway, left, hands over the keys to St Helena Centre to Hari Punchihewa, from the University of Derby
Cllr Brian Ridgway, left, hands over the keys to St Helena Centre to Hari Punchihewa, from the University of Derby
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A university is to open a centre in Chesterfield – bringing new jobs and education opportunities to the town.

St Helena Centre, a former girls school which was used as a council building until last year, is to be taken over by Derby University.

The Grade II-listed building is on Sheffield Road, just outside the town centre and close to Chesterfield College.

Hari Punchihewa, university deputy chief executive and finance director, said the acquisition would let the university work more closely with the college.

He said: “We have been working for some time to extend our presence in the town.

“This acquisition extends our options to be of service to the town of Chesterfield – to help economic development through comprehensive business support to create jobs and bolster the higher education offer already in place there.

“The building itself is a wonderful structure in a perfect location, so close to town and the college.

“It would be great to see the building returned to its original purpose for education but this is just one of the options open to the university.”

The centre was built in 1911.

Its next phase of use with the university will start in mid-2016, once major refurbishment has taken place.

Coun Brian Ridgway, of Derbyshire County Council, said: “This is the best possible use for the St Helena Centre.

“The university will bring new jobs to the area and create opportunities for people from Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover to increase their qualifications and skills.