Each month I endeavour to provide a snapshot of Destination Chesterfield’s current successes and future plans for the town. As we enter the New Year I thought now would be an appropriate time to reflect on all that Chesterfield has achieved to date , paving the way for more good news, development and investment in 2014.
Probably our proudest achievement as a town is that we’re emerging from this recession in better shape than ever. As my colleague and Vice Chair of Destination Chesterfield Cllr John Burrows tells us: “We could have chosen to bunker down and ride out the recession but we didn’t. We chose to forge ahead with our marketing plans.”
As a result, we’re coming out of this recession fighting and we have the figures to prove it.
In May, the 16 hectare, £340 million Chesterfield Waterside development was announced as one of the UK’s largest Regeneration and Renewal projects. With detailed planning permission granted towards the end of 2013, work will start on the first residential phase early in the New Year. Already it has been hailed as an exciting example of best practice regeneration taking a largely vacant area centre and creating a vibrant new environment of buildings and open spaces, finishing runner up to the Olympic Park in the National Regeneration and Renewal awards.
In July we reported a housing boom, well before other towns and cities in the UK. House prices in the Town have risen *7.7%, the highest figure throughout Derbyshire, which puts us above the national average house price increase of 6.5% a year.
In September, Chesterfield was named as the only town north of the Watford Gap to be in the top ten of towns with the least shop vacancies. The town’s vacancy rate – which fell from 8.7 per cent last year to 7.7 per cent in 2013 – puts us in the top ten large centres in the country, way below the 13.5 per cent average.
Our retail offering has improved month-on-month, with large high street names and independent retailers choosing to make Chesterfield their home. Throughout 2013 we welcomed a number of major retailers to our town, including TK Maxx, B&M Bargains, Hobbycraft and Asda Living.
While other high streets may be strugglings, Chesterfield’s is growing with retailers attracted by a wealth of available property and development sites. We further added to this offering when we celebrated the re-opening of the Market hall in October after its £4 million refurbishment, helping attract more independent retailers to both the town centre as well as outlying areas like Chatsworth Road and Whittington Moor
As part of the growth in property and retail, our food and drink offering has improved substantially in recent years, so much so that we hosted our very own Food and Drink Awards in October with none other than Ainsley Harriott as the host. I am delighted to report that we are already looking ahead to the 2014 Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards with some sponsors already signed up.
We have built a very powerful investment message for our town and in November we took it to Westminster, where we met potential investors from the property and retail sectors as well as the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP. He praised Destination Chesterfield saying, ‘it is a good example of the public and private sector working together and taking responsibility to attract investment and promote their town.’ Looking at everything we have achieved together these last 12 months, I couldn’t have said it better myself