Words: Paul Chapman
Each year Destination Chesterfield arranges an Investment Summit, this year hosted at Casa Hotel, where developers, businesses and investors gathered to hear the latest updates on progress in Chesterfield. And there’s a lot happening.
At the end of the article there are links to various videos and related pages.
Here’s a quick tour of the main highlights.
Markham Vale (Peter Storey)
Derbyshire’s largest regeneration project established as a result of the decline of heavy industry. This £250m development, includes 200 hectares of trails, woodlands, enhanced wildlife sites and is fronted by a two-mile industrial area along the M1.
So far, 52 new companies are based on the site, creating 2,236 new jobs. This already exceeds the number employed at the colliery during its height of operation, the end target is 4,100 jobs.
To the north side of the motorway, most businesses have been on site for 12 to 18 months and are already expanding. This is great news for Chesterfield, as although businesses may not be local, they employ skilled people from the immediate area to work in the warehouses, distribution centres, factories and offices.
Social Media is the primary tool for filling vacancies. The days of browsing at the job centre have long gone. There are a typically 20 to 25 jobs posted per week at Markham Vale.
To help fill these roles, Markham Vale has its own training facility at the Environment Centre where 1500 people have attended training courses in the past 12 months.
Markham Vale is also keen to remember its mining heritage and markhamstorymine.org commemoratives the sad death of 106 miners killed in Markham Tragedies in 1937, 38 and 73.
The Avenue (Mark Johns)
The brownfield site on the way to Clay Cross is a prime location for future development and Kier Living have created ‘a new development which blends in sympathetically with its surroundings whilst having a genuine sense of place’.
The former Avenue Coking Works has seen a massive clean-up operation and the new development by Kier Living delivers housing with a contemporary, open plan feel with a hint to the site's industrial past. The Phase 1 build is in progress, with a release of 252 properties, and future phases taking housing numbers to 469. It also includes commercial units and a school.
“All these projects are helping revitalise our town, Chesterfield is a great place in which to live and work, your money buys a bit more house here, our average price is £184k as opposed to £220k across the country”
Chesterfield Borough Council (Huw Bowen)
In a whistle stop round up of developments across the Borough, Huw Bowen (Chief Executive Chesterfield Borough Council) brought us up to date on a number of projects.
Chesterfield HS2: HS2 is over budget and running late, however it continues to move forward and will bring future economic benefits and jobs.
Check out the new video by Whitham Cox Architects (see link) that shows how the walk from the station into town could look, framing the spire, dare I suggest it, almost like a mini Sheffield.
The delivery of HS2 will also bring about a depot for Staveley, where Talgo, a rail innovator, will be based, creating 250 jobs and development of the Staveley corridor with 750 homes, a school and creating a new community.
Chesterfield Waterside: Avant Homes has acquired the land at the old Arnold Laver site for the development of 177 two, three and four-bedroom homes, with the first homes expected to be released for sale later this year. The development will also include a seven storey office building (planning secured) which will bring in new businesses and investors, who want to be based on the doorstep of the station.
Northern Gateway: The new Premier Inn is now fully open and developers Jomast are searching out tenants for the ground floors. The new multistory car park is open for business, we all have our views on it… I like it.
The scheme is also delivering a new Enterprise Centre on the old ‘donut’ car park, with work starting on site very soon, “we’ve had a look and haven’t found any old kings” laughs Huw. Once complete, and with street layout changes to Elder Way will deliver a whole new look and feel to the Northern entry to town.
Others: David Lloyd Leisure has submitted plans for Adrenaline World, Phase 1 of Peak Resort, The Glass Yard leisure and retail development has been approved on Sheffield Road (similar to the development at 131 Chatsworth Road), Vicar Lane will be installing a new LED screen to support events at the amphitheater junction, outside H&M.
“All these projects are helping revitalise our town, Chesterfield is a great place in which to live and work, your money buys a bit more house here, our average price is £184k as opposed to £220k across the country” adds Huw.
“The plans to boost town centre living plans are in progress, the old bank in New Square, and McCarthy Stone are due to redevelop the old North East Derbyshire County Council offices as retirement apartments.”
“Commercial demand for the town continues to grow, we’ve already received 400 enquires this year alone. Our great location with sites at Markham Vale, the proximity to Peak District, good quality housing, employment availability that’s supported by training opportunities at Chesterfield College and Derby University, gives us a great future. Yes, we have problems, but development and job creation ensure our town's doing well."
Skilling for investment: (Mark Warrilow, HS2 and David Higham, Chesterfield College)
Chesterfield College have been working with young and older people, skilling them for the opportunities being created. The Premier Inn saw 20 people trained exclusively for the jobs available. The college continues to retrain the older generation preparing them for roles in the public sector in hospital, nursing, support and social care.
HS2 opportunities will exist for plant operators, civil engineers and apprenticeships in the supply change. The developments hope to inspire young people and show them what happens inside businesses, and give them insight into interesting jobs available, perhaps opening their eyes to roles they didn’t know existed.
Polly Barnfield OBE (CEO Maybe*)
“In 2019 we started looking at our devices more than watching our TVs, an active social media user spends 136 minutes each day scrolling through 300ft of posts”
The patent-pending Maybe* platform uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help organisations listen and engage with their customers through social media, benchmark their results, and optimise the ROI of their activity.
Polly has been working with Vicar Lane looking at how they can use social media to increase footfall and sales.
“In 2019 we started looking at our devices more than watching our TVs, an active social media user spends 136 minutes each day scrolling through 300ft of posts” Polly informs us.
“National retailers are all using social media to point people at their websites, the ‘What Do You Think Campaign (#WDYT) has been a huge success.”
Polly showed a video clip (link below) that demonstrated how a small independent, footwear retailer in Cheltenham has seen a 39% increase in sales as a direct result of social media use.
Please visit the links below to find out more about Maybe* and what it can do.
At a personal level I struggled with this part of the day. The instant hit creates a reactive response to the post, ‘I want one of those’ etc. but does the recipient actually need it? Last month we talked about avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle, whilst I fully understand the need for businesses to be successful, should we carefully consider purchases? It’s a balance, and one I hope we can reach so we have a thriving successful high street but one with a sustainability ethos that supports it.
I’ll leave that with you.
Cllr Tony King (Derbyshire County Council)
Tony wrapped up the day with a few short words to say “Derbyshire is a fabulous place to live work and visit”, I can’t agree more.
After the morning I went away with a few questions, a few actions and a firm desire to help all the presenters get more people into our town centre. There are many small business owners putting their energy and money into town and trying to make a go of things, and it’s our job to support them and step across the threshold.
Markham Vale: markhamvale.co.uk
The Avenue: kierliving.co.uk/wingerworth_the-avenue-14298
Northern Gateway: chesterfield.gov.uk/northerngateway