Plans to create a modern and extended customer experience at the Stephenson Memorial Hall – which houses Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre, and Museum – are at the heart of a bid for almost £20m worth of Government funding submitted by Chesterfield Borough Council.
The council’s bid to the Levelling Up Fund makes the case for an allocation of £11m towards the costs of a £15.6m project to remodel and refurbish Chesterfield’s ‘striking’ Stephenson Memorial Hall.
Under the plans, the refurbished Hall would bring together under one roof an extended Pomegranate Theatre, a reconfigured and modern museum offering, alongside new gallery space, a café bar, education and community facilities.
If successful, the remaining £8.5m would be immediately allocated to further regenerate Chesterfield’s historic town centre, with investment centred on four key public spaces – Corporation Street, Rykneld Square, Market Square and New Square – and how these are connected to one another.
These spaces would be re-imagined for a range of flexible uses including markets, festivals, events, cultural celebrations, and community gatherings in a programme that will aim to complement the offering at Stephenson Memorial Hall and other key town centre assets such as the Church of St Mary and All Saints (Crooked Spire) and Market Hall Assembly Rooms.
The funding would enable delivery of a vastly improved public realm alongside new seating, landscaping, lighting, and signage, and a step change in digital connectivity.
The proposals are the next stage of the council’s ambitious plans to transform Chesterfield town centre and make sure the borough’s market traders, retailers and other employers are strongly positioned to recover from the long-term economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “We recognise the need to invest in Chesterfield town centre to make sure it remains a vibrant place for generations to come – providing great opportunities and experiences for local people and businesses, and keeping Chesterfield on the map as a go-to place for visitors.
“We’re already making significant progress on our £1bn borough-wide growth programme to create new jobs for local people, support new business start-ups, improve employability through better skills provision, revitalise former industrial sites and attract new investment.
“But our ambitions don’t stop there. Here in Chesterfield, we have a compelling story to tell and a prosperous future ahead of us – one which we firmly believe is deserving of further investment as part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
“The council’s bid seeks funding to invest in another round of ambitious projects which will further bolster our work to transform how Chesterfield town centre looks and feels, while creating a flagship visitor experience in one of the town’s most iconic and striking buildings.”
The Government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund is open to local councils to support investment in town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.
Chesterfield Borough Council expects to hear in November 2021 whether its bid has been successful.