Developer unveiled for £50m gateway revamp

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PLANS to spend £50m transforming a town’s “northern gateway” took a major step forward yesterday after a development company was named to take the lead on the design, demolition and building work.

Wilson Bowden Developments has been charged with overhauling an area around what is currently known as the Donut roundabout in Chesterfield, to provide a “high quality shopping and leisure area”.

Council bosses said the site was one of the main entrances to Chesterfield town centre, and in recent years concerns had been raised that it did not present a good image of the town to visitors.

Chesterfield Council put the project out to tender and two developers were shortlisted, Wilson Bowden, which is based in Coalville, Leicestershire, and Muse Developments which has its HQ in Manchester.

Muse is currently working on the £300m redevelopment of the Waterdale area of Doncaster, but Chesterfield Council said its designs had not found as much favour with members of its ruling cabinet.

Both Wilson Bowden and Muse submitted their final detailed proposals to the council in mid-April and a decision was finally made at a meeting of senior authority members on Tuesday.

Coun John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council said the site would also offer a mix of office space, homes and car parking when work was complete, with builders expected on site late next year.

He added: “We received exciting proposals from both developers but we can only select one development partner.

“The Wilson Bowden plans presented the strongest overall scheme for the site and the best fit with our aspirations to improve the quality of Chesterfield’s shopping offer and to be a contemporary destination.”

The plans will be the subject of what the council described as a “full public consultation” in the next few weeks.

Blueprints include a major foodstore, retail outlets and restaurants, a cinema, 80-bedroom hotel, 85 homes, offices, and 700-800 replacement car parking spaces, and an outdoor performance area.

David Ward, planning director from Wilson Bowden Developments said: “We’re obviously delighted to have been selected as the Council’s preferred partner for the Northern Gateway project.

“The next stage will be for us to consult with local people on the plans with a view to submitting a full planning application this autumn.”

Work is scheduled to commence on the site at the end of 2013 and due for completion at the end of 2015.

George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce and a board member of Destination Chesterfield, a group which aims to attract more people to the town welcomed the announcement.

He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Chesterfield to attract new businesses, retailers and shoppers, to give existing customers greater choice and reinforce Chesterfield’s position as the key centre in northern Derbyshire.”

The northern gateway scheme is part of a wider regeneration effort known as the Chesterfield Town Centre Masterplan, which also takes in areas around the railway station and the so-called Civic Quarter.

The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership also recently announced that it would support the town’s Waterside scheme, which aims to revamp an area alongside the A61.

The LEP has awarded £2.4m from its Growing Places fund to help create “a vibrant new environment of buildings and open spaces”.