Presentations to Groups

Our Chairman Philip Riden has recently given a very successful Zoom presentation on the Civic Society to Chesterfield Rotary Club, and the text of the presentation is posted here for general interest.

We are happy to give similar talks to any groups who would like to know more about the Civic Society and its work, adjusting the content to suit the audience and current issues. Please contact us through the website if you are interested in such a talk. The current presentation lasted about 20 minutes, and of course, can be delivered in person when conditions allow us to do so.

Chesterfield-Civic-Society-Presentation

Latest on cycle superhighway issues

Chesterfield and District Civic Society remain concerned about various aspects of Derbyshire County Council’s proposed cycle superhighway in Chesterfield. This post includes a download of the text of recent emails sent to and from our chairman, Philip Riden, to Derbyshire County Councillor Simon Spencer (Deputy Leader,  Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport & Infrastructure) over the proposals.

This recent email correspondence highlights various issues the civic society has with the plans. These include what we feel is the lack of a through and proper consultation exercise. One of the emails also suggests a possible alternative strategy to the proposals.

These emails are being made available in the interests of open governance.

For further information contact our Chairman – Philip Riden, telephone 01246 554026 or email him: philip.riden@nottingham.ac.uk

Public consultation issues: proposed cycle superhighway between Chatsworth Road and the Royal Hospital

The Civic Society remains concerned about certain aspects of Derbyshire County Council’s proposals for a cycle superhighway between Chatsworth Road and the Chesterfield Royal Hospital. These concerns include publicity given to the scheme, where there is anecdotal evidence that not all householders affected had been sent a notice by the council.

On 26 March 2021 the chairman of the Civic Society wrote to Derbyshire County Council asking (under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI)) to be supplied with details of the distribution of a notice, which it was understood was to be sent to all householders affected by the scheme to build a cycle ‘superhighway’ between the junction of Chatsworth Road and Holymoor Road in the west and Chesterfield Royal Hospital in the east.

The county council’s response to the FoI request has been received. You can read this by clicking on the down-load button below.

To read a fuller explanation of the Civic Society’s FoI request, together with a copy of the letter said to have been sent by the county council to local residents (listed on the council’s FoI response) click on the download below. This download also gives more details on what local residents can do to help address this issue.

If it can be shown that the county council failed to give all householders an equal opportunity to comment on the proposals, it may be possible to lay a complaint before the Local Government Ombudsman or the Secretary of State alleging that the county council has proceeded improperly in its promotion of this scheme.

Comments can be made via the Civic Society’s website or by phoning the Chairman, Philip Riden at any reasonable time on 01246 554026.

Civic Society seeks answers about old NEDDC offices

Chesterfield and District Civic Society is seeking information about the future of the former North East Derbyshire District Council offices on Saltergate. We have written to the believed owners of the site and currently vacant buildings – Bournemouth based McCarthy & Stone Ltd. – to find out what they now propose to do.

The empty former Rural Council House on Saltergate, pictured in February 2018. Since this time the building and its grounds have continued to deteriorate.

To read our letter (of 24 April 2021) to McCarthy & Stone Ltd., which also explains our current views on the future of the site, click the download button below.

Response to Derbyshire County Council’s proposed extension of the Hipper Valley Trail

The download below is the Chesterfield and District Civic Society’s response to Derbyshire County Council’s plans for an east-west walking and cycling route for Chesterfield – an extension and re-work of the so-called Hipper Valley Trail.

Costed at just over £1.6 million the route will go from the A619 junction with Holymoor Road, along Chatsworth Road and the existing Hipper Valley Trail, through Queen’s Park. It will then go to the hospital by using Crow Lane and Wetlands Lane. The consultation closes on 25 March 2021.

In general, the Civic Society welcomes highway improvements that encourage more people to cycle. It does, however, feel that there are elements of the scheme which could compromise the safety and convenience of other road-users, including pedestrians and drivers of private motor-cars and light and heavy goods vehicles.

It is understood that the scheme costs will be borne entirely by an earmarked grant from the Government. The Society, however, is concerned at the stated cost of the works – averaging some £320,000 per mile – especially as the central portion of the route was created in its present form only a few years ago at a reported cost of £1m

To find out more about the proposals visit the consultation site here.

The Civic Society’s full response can be downloaded below.

CHESTERFIELD TRAIN STATION MASTERPLAN

Plans to transform the area between the town centre and Chesterfield train station were out for public consultation, closing on 8 March 2021. Amongst a number of other local organisations the civic society has submitted its views on the scheme, which has been put together by Chesterfield Borough Council, working with AECOM and Whittam Cox Architects.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Station-approach_2014.jpg

We are generally supportive of the masterplan, but you can read our comments in the download below.

The plan sets out a vision to create a ‘gateway’ to Chesterfield and north Derbyshire and identifies potential development sites. Also included are improvements in cycling, pedestrian and public transport routes and facilities.

Download the PDF here.

Covid Lockdown and Street Closures

The latest lock down has had a considerable impact on the centre of Chesterfield in both accessibility and appearance. This prompted a consultation amongst members of the Civic Society which resulted in the following communication to Bridget Gould the DCC member responsible for the policy in Chesterfield, and it is published below for information. This issue has also been reported in the Derbyshire Times and can be accessed here

CHESTERFIELD AND DISTRICT CIVIC SOCIETY

Chairman: Philip Riden

Dear Ms Gould,

When the first round of street closures and related measures was introduced in Chesterfield earlier this year I spoke to one of the officers concerned and he advised me that you were in overall charge of this policy in Chesterfield. I am writing to you on the assumption that this is still the case and in the light of the DfT Statutory Guidance issued earlier this week about the impending second round of funding for these measures. You have probably seen the article in Friday’s Daily Telegraph headlined ‘Councils warned over street closures’, which has also prompted me to write.

The Civic Society, which at present can only communicate with its members via a monthly newsletter and email, has sounded opinion about what has been done in Chesterfield. Briefly, our collective view is:

1  The closure of the upper section of Corporation Street has achieved nothing. This road is mainly used as a taxi rank, with very little through traffic. We fail to see how its closure has encouraged people to walk more, or reduced the volume of traffic in the town centre. 

2  The closure of South Place has also achieved little or nothing. Again, we fail to see how it has encouraged people to walk more, except that the closure has meant the loss of about a dozen short-term parking places. If the aim was to encourage people to park in the car-parks in the shopping precinct on Markham Road and walk into the town centre, this was misconceived. As has been widely publicised in the Derbyshire Times, anyone who does this is likely to be fined for unauthorised parking by the owners of the car-parks concerned, who insist that they can only be used by people visiting shops in the two precincts.

3  We consider the erection of crash barriers and, more seriously, large concrete blocks along several streets in the town centre, so as to widen pavements, also to have achieved little if anything. Both are ugly and make the streets less attractive to shoppers, which is surely the opposite of what local authorities should be trying to achieve. I am quite sure most people would keep 2 metres away from each other on the ordinary pavement without these barriers. They have also reduced the available parking, particularly for disabled people. I was recently in a queue outside the HSBC branch on Glumangate where I was joined by a 96-year-old disabled ex-Serviceman who had struggled, with a walking frame, from one of the Rose Hill car-parks to get to the bank. He pointed out that, with a Blue Badge, he had previously been able to park across the road from the bank entrance, where there is now a row of concrete blocks. There must be others who are simply avoiding shopping in Chesterfield for the same reason.

4  Several of our members believe that there has been a noticeable upturn in graffiti in the town centre since the first lockdown. As a general problem, this is not directly a highways matter but one member has pointed out that the offending concrete blocks seem to have become targets for some of this graffiti. This does nothing to improve the appearance of the town centre.

I am attaching two photographs which illustrate my points about concrete blocks and graffiti.

In short, we hope that the County Council will not use this new funding round to close any more roads in the town centre or install any more pavement-widening measures. Indeed, we would like to see both steps reversed as soon as possible. We fail to see what they are achieving in reducing the risk that people walking through Chesterfield town centre will contract Covid (except perhaps by persuading them to stay at home).

I note that the new DfT guidance lays considerable stress on the need for public consultation, of which there was none in the last round. This has, particularly I believe in some London boroughs, aroused considerable irritation among residents affected by the changes. This is a point made by several Civic Society members, who are familiar with the traditional local government procedure of advertisement and consultation before changes to highways are made.

Could I please ask what form of consultation the County Council intends to follow in this case? I think in towns which have an active civic society, like Chesterfield, such groups could reasonably be asked for their view.

Finally, there is what several of our members regard as the eccentric but welcome decision to close part of Crow Lane. The eccentricity is that the County Council seems to have believed that this would encourage more people to cycle to the Royal Hospital. It will not, given the steepness of the road. We are quite sure that anyone who does cycle to the hospital would do so via the A632 so as to arrive at the front entrance. Conversely, my wife and I, and other Civic Society members who live on the Spital or Tapton side of Chesterfield, have warmly welcomed the closure, which has made Crow Lane much pleasanter and safer to walk along. The closure has also solved what was previously a serious litter problem. Early in the first lockdown my wife and I tried to have a personal litter pick on Crow Lane. We failed to reach the top of the hill before we had filled as many refuse sacks as we could carry. I am aware that the County Council cleared the road of litter before closing it, and virtually none has since reappeared. This shows that it must have come almost entirely from passing vehicles, not pedestrians or cyclists. 

Civic Society members who have expressed a view are all in favour of closing this section of Crow Lane to vehicles permanently, leaving access to the golf course at one end and to Dobbin Clough Farm at the other. In the longer run, if the scheme to build a new access road to the railway station from Hollis Lane goes ahead, we would like to see the section of Crow Lane from the junction with Piccadilly Road to the station also closed. This would obviate the risk of bridge strikes at the bridges carrying the railway over Crow Lane, get rid of another litter problem, and reduce traffic on Piccadilly Road.

Could I please ask whether the County Council has formed an opinion as to the desirability of closing the upper section of Crow Lane permanently and, if so, when it is likely to start a formal consultation process to that end. The Civic Society would undoubtedly support such a measure.

I would be grateful for your response to these points and appreciate that there may be some delay, given the difficulties under which you are working.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Riden

Wingerworth Hall

Despite the coronavirus the work of the society continues, and our chairman has recently been involved in advising the owner of a local property on the contesting of a planning application affecting a listed building. Members can read more in their newsletter, and a magazine article on the issue can be seen below. It can also be downloaded on this link

LPOC-article.