Chesterfield and District Civic Society, whilst welcoming many aspects of the Stephenson Memorial Hall revamp planning application, have some serious reservations about others.
The building, which incorporates the museum and Pomegranate Theatre is currently subject to a planning application, following the award of a substantial grant to update facilities.
In its submission, the society raises concerns about disabled access to the building. It has also strongly objected to plans for the museum displays, condemning ‘unreservedly the recommendations contained in the report entitled “Re-imagining Stephenson Memorial Hall”.’
Consultants hired by the borough council suggest a thematic approach to the displays. The chronological story of Chesterfield does not appear to be told. For example, there seems to be little or nothing about the town’s history before the 1870s.
We have listed a number of inaccuracies in the consultant’s report and suggested what the museum displays should cover in our response document.
Download the civic society’s full response to the application below. This commences with a brief history of the building.
Unfortunately the county council seem to be making a real mess of their Chesterfield East to West Cycling and Walking Route – the latest debacle is the failure to reopen Crow Lane.
Whether you agree with the permanent closure of Crow Lane or not, the fact is that the county council’s powers to close it ended on 1 December 2021 and it should have been reopened. A more permanent closure proposal will then be subject to a statutory notice and consultation period. During this period the lane has to be opened.
The civic society contacted the county council, giving them until close of business on 10 December to reopen the highway. The highway has not been reopened so we have now complained to the Secretary of State and the Local Government Ombudsman.
We hope that you will agree with us that the county council must operate within the law.
Our chairman’s original communication to the county council over the matter can be downloaded below.
There’s also an article in the Derbyshire Times on the failure of the county council to reopen the road.
As the road wasn’t opened by the close of business on 10 December our chairman has written to the county council, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and to Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister of State at the Department for Transport. You can download the letters below.
This post was updated on 12 December 2021, adding the letters sent by the civic society following failure by the county council to reopen Crow Lane, by close of business on 10 December 2021.The post text was also amended to reflect this.
Many thanks to everyone who attended the 11 November 2021 public meeting to discuss the Chesterfield east to west cycling and walking route. Below is a statement issued by the civic society on the event.
Also attached, to download, is the opening statement made by our chairman at the meeting. This summarises the civic society’s issues with scheme.
Chatsworth Road cycle route strongly opposed
Over 350 local residents packed into the hall at Brookfield School on Thursday November 11 to discuss the planned East–West Cycling and Walking Route between Brookside and the Royal Hospital.
The meeting, one of the largest of its kind in Chesterfield for some years, was organised by the Chesterfield and District Civic Society.
Chesterfield’s MP, Toby Perkins, opened the meeting by explaining his view of the county council’s proposals. He called on the council to pause both the eastern and western extensions of the existing Hipper Trail until there had been a fuller consultation with those affected. He pressed for further consideration of an alternative route for the western extension, using the existing footpath between Somersall Lane and Greendale Avenue in Holymoorside, instead of Chatsworth Road.
Mr Perkins also reported on his recent exchange in Parliament with a Transport Department Minister, and announced that he had arranged to meet Chris Heaton-Harris, the Minister responsible for cycle policy. A number of speakers criticised the proposed cycle ‘super highway’, which would run alongside Chatsworth Road between Holymoor Road and Storrs Road. They believed that it would make the road more dangerous for cyclists and lead to worse congestion for motor traffic. Others urged the use of the Greendale Avenue instead.
Speakers in favour of the Chatsworth Road route argued that it would encourage more cycling, especially among young people, and would be safer than the present road layout.
Three of the landowners on the Greendale Avenue route spoke. They stressed that they had always been in favour of the footpath being upgraded to a bridle path which cyclists could use, but were frustrated by the failure, over many years, of the county council to meet their concerns over liability for injury by users.
The Civic Society chairman, Philip Riden, commented that he had recently written to the Department of Transport urging officials to intervene to resolve this problem.
Strong feelings were expressed about the permanent closure of part of Crow Lane to motor traffic. Some speakers argued that its temporary closure had caused congestion on alternative routes; others felt that the road was now much safer for walkers and cyclists.
The meeting voted by a large majority in support of the Greendale Avenue route in reference to a cycle route on Chatsworth Road, and by a smaller majority in favour of closing Crow Lane. Another show of hands confirmed that no-one living on Chatsworth Road or nearby had received the circular which the county council claim to have delivered last March to 4,041 households on 117 streets affected by the scheme.
Mr Riden stated that the Civic Society had laid a complaint before the Local Government Ombudsman, arguing that the consultation was so badly flawed as to make it unsafe for the county council to proceed with the scheme.
The meeting concluded with an assurance from Mr Perkins that he would convey the strong opposition expressed to the Chatsworth Road route to both the county council and the Department for Transport.
Download the opening statement made our chairman at the meeting below.
The Civic Society is trying to revive serious consideration of the Greendale Avenue – Somersall Lane cycle route. We do not believe that negotiations should have been broken off without more effort to bring them to a successful conclusion.
Download below our early November 2021 letters to Derbyshire County Council on this issue.
Our latest three blue building plaques were on display at our October 2021 AGM.
These popular and increasingly familiar plaques, mainly around Chesterfield town centre, have been a feature of the Civic Society’s activities for many years. The plaque’s design, though, have had a recent make-over.
We already have permission for the building’s owners to erect the plaques and are currently pursuing the necessary paperwork.
A few of the much older plaques are deteriorating and some of the information on them is not now correct. We are looking at ways to replace them.
Chesterfield and District Civic Society have arranged a public meeting with Toby Perkins MP, to discuss the Chesterfield East-West Walking and Cycling Route, following Derbyshire County Council’s recent decision to proceed with the scheme.
The meeting will be held at Brookfield Community School Hall on Thursday 11 November 2021 from 7.30–9.00 p.m.
All local residents are invited to come along and express their views to their Member of Parliament about the route.
All County Council and Borough Council elected members representing divisions and wards on the route have been invited.
Chesterfield and District Civic Society has submitted a petition to Derbyshire County Council, following the council’s decision to proceed with the East-West Cycling Route.
Our petition refers to the western extension, particularly along Chatsworth Road. We are concerned that the plans will make an extremely busy section of Chatsworth Road dangerous to all road users. We believe the county council should make renewed efforts to obtain an agreement with the landowners concerned to use the route between Greendale Avenue and Somersall Lane, currently a public footpath, as was originally intended.
The on-line petition has yet to approved by the county council. Once live we’ll post a link here.
We would welcome as many people who agree with our stance, to sign the online petition.
There will also be paper copies that can be circulated. If anyone would like a paper version, message us via our new Facebook page or email us: email@example.com
What the petition says
Chesterfield East-West Walking and Cycling Route
We the undersigned ask Derbyshire County Council to abandon, in its present form, the western extension of the existing Hipper Trail via Linden Avenue and Chatsworth Road, on the grounds that this will make an extremely busy section of Chatsworth Road dangerous to all road users. Instead DCC should make renewed efforts to obtain an agreement with the landowners concerned to use the route between Greendale Avenue and Somersall Lane, currently a public footpath, as originally intended.
The petitioners support the creation of dedicated walking and cycling routes in Derbyshire, but oppose the use of Chatsworth Road and Linden Avenue as the route of the proposed western end of the Chesterfield East-West Walking and Cycling Route. Large numbers of residents consider that the use of this route will endanger all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, and will not encourage either more walking or more cycling. The building of a reserved cycle track along Chatsworth Road will involve the removal of the reserved central area currently used by vehicles waiting to turn right. Traffic will, inevitably, be held up by vehicles waiting on the carriageways to turn.
The petitioners urge the County Council to reopen negotiations with the landowners to use the existing footpath between Greendale Avenue and Somersall Lane as a cycle path, if necessary seeking the advice of the Department for Transport to find a solution to any problems that have arisen. The petitioners understand that the landowners remain in favour, in principle, of the use of this route, which will be shorter, flatter and safer than a route via Chatsworth Road and Linden Avenue.
The decision to initiate a petition was taken following a discussion at our annual general meeting in October 2021.