2018 will be transformative for Chesterfield. We will see physical progress on the town’s key developments – Peak Resort, Northern Gateway and Chesterfield Waterside – and we will begin to ready ourselves for the benefits that HS2 will bring to the town.
Although 17 years away, we must start laying the foundations now – not just physically, but also in training and skills in order to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities HS2 will bring to the town.
I recently attended Chesterfield’s first Investment Summit which brought together businesses, investors and developers across the region. Richard Brown CBE, a Board Member of HS2 was speaking at the conference. Previously on the board of Eurostar, Mr Brown said that there was the opportunity for HS2 to transform Chesterfield’s fortunes in the same way Eurostar had done for the Lille in France.
Having Googled Lille, I am absolutely inclined to agree with him. There are many parallels to be drawn. The city, in the north of France, was known for its industrial background and underwent some difficult years prior to having a Eurostar station. The town fought to get its station and was successful in 1993. Now Lille is known throughout France for its handsome city centre and culture and is ranked as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe. It’s the gateway to Belgium, like we are to the Peak District. Since the Eurostar station, rather than passing through the city, people actually stop and spend time there. That is what we must recreate in Chesterfield.
I am confident this will happen as there will be much to attract visitors and encourage them to stop and stay before venturing into the Peak District. Work got under way stripping out the former Co-op building at the end of the year, ahead of it being transformed into a hotel and restaurant later this year.
Work also started towards the end of 2017 on creating the access roundabout for Peak Resort. In 2018, construction will begin on the hotel, apartments and multi-storey carpark in phase one of Chesterfield Waterside.
Years of behind the scenes work is now coming together. Our physical and economic building blocks are being put in place that will make Chesterfield a town to live, work, do business and visit. The only way is up.