Category Archives: General

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.

Committee Meetings Start again

It will take a long time before ‘normality’ is resumed, and it’s unlikely we are going to see any public meetings before the end of the first quarter of 2021. However, the Committee met this month at the St Thomas’s Centre, and plans to continue doing so while the current rules on social interaction remain in force. St Thomas’s did a remarkable job in providing a safe environment, with a comfortably distancing meeting room and all possible health measures provided. We give them our thanks.

Hasland Hall Estate

Introduction

This note is being mounted on the Civic Society website to provide some historical background to the planning application, currently under consideration by Chesterfield Borough Council, by the owners of Manor Farm House, 118 The Green, Hasland, Chesterfield, to re-roof the property. The Civic Society would prefer to see traditional Derbyshire stone flags used if possible, rather than the Spanish slate specified in the application . Manor House Farm is a grade II listed building; unusually for such buildings, it is of both architectural and historical interest.

Hasland Hall Google Image
3D capture from Google Maps

The following history has been made available by the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust, which hopes later in 2020 to publish an interim account of the former civil parish of Hasland, in which Manor Farm House lies.

The document can be downloaded as a PDF here

Hidden Heritage Secret Streams 25th March 2020

A talk by Rachel Walker, Project Manager, Don Catchment Rivers Trust at 2.30pm in the Suite at St Thomas’ Centre Chatsworth Road

Don Catchment Rivers Trust are an independent charitable trust, aiming to improve rivers in the catchment. They are currently working on a project in and around Chesterfield, which includes volunteering to help clean up streams, working with local groups to research the history of the area, and make improvements to river habitats. 

Many of us will have seen the recent DCRT exhibition in Chesterfield Museum, and here is an opportunity to learn more about this fascinating and important work.

The Holme Brook flowing through the Monkey Park, Chester Street

Please also visit the DCRT website at https://dcrt.org.uk/

For location details and directions , please click on the picture .    

  Members free. Visitors welcome £2.00 including refreshments .

THE CHESTERFIELD HOTEL

Chesterfield and District Civic Society

A future for the site of the Chesterfield Hotel

This post can be downloaded as a PDF here

Background

The Chesterfield Hotel was built in 1876–7, a few years after the Midland Railway rebuilt its station at Chesterfield on its present site (a short distance to the north of the first station of 1840). The hotel stood at the foot of Corporation Street, which was itself laid out by the Borough Council in the early 1870s as a more impressive approach to the station than the original road, part of which survives as Station Back Lane.

The hotel, which is built of brick with pitched slate roofs on a quadrangular plan around a central courtyard, was extended three times. Two more or less matching wings were built at either end of the original block, one on Corporation Street and the other on Malkin Street. The last extension was much less satisfactory – in brick which did not match that of the earlier phases, with windows that were not the same size or shape, and in part a flat roof.

The setting of the hotel was not improved by the decision to sever Corporation Street as a motor road when the Inner Relief Road was built, separating it from the other commercial buildings higher up the street, and leaving it in not very splendid isolation, flanked by minor roads on three sides and the Inner Relief Road on the fourth.

Known for most of its life as the Station Hotel, it was renamed the Chesterfield Hotel in the 1980s, presumably because the older name had rather down-at-heel connotations, although the later name was essentially meaningless.

The Station Hotel set out from the start to be Chesterfield’s leading hotel. For much of the twentieth century it was one of Mansfield Brewery’s leading residential houses and was featured a good deal in the company’s advertising. It was a three-star hotel, whereas its nearest rival, the Hotel Portland of 1899, also a railway hotel, was Chesterfield’s two-star hotel.

For many local people, the hotel is probably most affectionately remembered as a function venue, rather than as somewhere to stay. It was for decades the place to have an engagement party, wedding reception, retirement do or whatever. It was a popular choice for club dinners and lunches, as well as business meetings, fashion shows, trade exhibitions and the like.

Hotels of this sort in not particularly wealthy medium-sized provincial towns have not had an easy time in recent decades and for most local people it was probably disappointing, rather than surprising, when it ceased trading. It was presumably a very expensive building to maintain and, despite the efforts of recent operators, was arguably doomed from the day the Casa opened on Whittington Moor, which (despite its uninspiring location alongside a four-lane dual carriageway with an outlook onto car dealerships and a supermarket) does provide Chesterfield with a good class modern four-star hotel.

The recent past

After the Chesterfield Hotel closed it was sold to its present owners, Prestige Hotels (Midlands) Ltd. Despite its impressive name, this appears to be a shell company run by a syndicate of business people living in south-east England, whose registered office is a modest private house in Bushey (Hertfordshire). It was incorporated in 2016 with issued capital of £1, and its most recently available balance sheet shows assets valued at £0.98m. and liabilities, principally it appears a mortgage on the Chesterfield Hotel, of £1.07m. We have been unable to locate any hotels, prestigious or otherwise, in the Midlands or elsewhere, owned or operated by the company.

It is just possible that the company did once intend to reopen the building as a hotel, although the only work they did was to board up the ground floor to make the building look even worse than before they bought it. An attempt to install short-term tenants as ‘guardians’ fell foul of public health and fire safety legislation. It seems rather more likely that the company intended from the start to sell the site on, probably with a view to it being redeveloped by others with more capital than themselves.

Some time after the property was sold, Chesterfield Borough Council announced ambitious plans to redevelop the whole of the approach from the station up to St Mary’s Gate, including land on either side of both Corporation Street and a new road parallel to it. Much of this area is currently either unoccupied or used as temporary car-parks. All of it is extremely unattractive and gives a very poor impression to visitors arriving at the station. The area clearly needs comprehensive redevelopment and the council’s plans have been generally welcomed.

The other major development in recent years is the Waterside scheme, occupying a large area immediately to the north of the Chesterfield Hotel. This promises to transform what has for years been a very bleak area, comprising the site of the former Trebor sweet factory, Arnold Laver’s timber yard, S. & J. Kitchen’s engineering works, and the old Great Central Railway station and goods yard. The retention of the Chesterfield Hotel (and for that matter the former county police station and court house on Brimington Road, now largely unoccupied) would seriously detract from the setting of the Waterside development.

Arguably, the whole area from the Inner Relief Road to the northern end of Waterside needs completely redeveloping as a mixed-use area, including a good proportion of reasonably priced housing. It is simply not practicable to retain prominent, but architecturally unremarkable and economically unviable, buildings on the edge of what is meant to be a prestigious landmark development. At the same time, it would be impossible to create a new approach to the station if the hotel building was retained.

The future

For all these reasons, the Civic Society believes that the Borough Council was right to allow the Chesterfield Hotel to be demolished. Civic societies are dedicated to campaigning for the improvement of the built environment in their local community. They are not ‘preservation societies’. Improving the built environment sometimes means demolishing buildings which have outlived their useful life. The Chesterfield Hotel falls into that category.

What is now important is that whatever takes the place of the Chesterfield Hotel enhances this very run-down part of the town. We need to look forward, not back. The current owners of the site are proposing that it should be redeveloped with a commercial building with car-parking, as part of the Borough Council’s overall scheme for the improvement of the approach to the station. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this idea but we would like to suggest an alternative.

Although another residential hotel on the scale of the Chesterfield Hotel is unlikely to be economically viable on this site, arguably there is a demand for some hotel and catering services in this part of the town. People sometimes have time to kill waiting for a train and would prefer to do so in more comfortable surroundings than a station buffet; business and professional people come to Chesterfield by train for meetings and do not wish to venture further from the station than necessary; and there is a demand from local business people for somewhere to meet for a drink or a meal within walking distance of the town centre (which the Casa is not). The site is also close to both the theatres in Chesterfield, especially the Pomegranate, and there should be a demand for pre-theatre meals or drinks afterwards (neither the Winding Wheel nor the Pomegranate serves food).

It might be argued that this market is already catered for by the licensed bars higher up Corporation Street and on Holywell Street. These, however, appear to be aimed at a predominantly young market, have late licences and are essentially drink-led operations, sometimes accompanied by loud music. There is a demand for this type of outlet, but it is not going to attract the market outlined in the previous paragraph. What we have in mind is somewhere with a more traditional, not to say quieter, offering, serving tea and coffee during the day, light lunches and a simple (but good quality and traditional) dinner menu in the evening might.

Could such a venue also offer residential accommodation? Obviously not on the scale the Chesterfield Hotel once did, nor as somewhere for coach operators to accommodate large numbers very cheaply (a market catered for in Chesterfield principally by the Ibis, it appears), but an operation on the lines of a ‘restaurant with rooms’ might be viable. People sometimes wish to stay close to a station if they are leaving early the following morning, and some people arriving by train might wish to stay as near the station as possible. Once again, the Chesterfield Hotel site has the advantage of being within walking distance of the town centre, if people have business there. We believe that it might be possible for a good quality restaurant also to offer a limited amount of overnight accommodation for both business and leisure travellers.

Another possibility, which would be an innovation for Chesterfield, would be to include in a restaurant-with-rooms development a small number of service flats, catering for those who wished to stay in Chesterfield for more than a couple of nights but not for long enough to rent an unfurnished flat. We are thinking of business and professional people working in Chesterfield for between a few weeks and a couple of months on a temporary contract, who would like more than just a hotel room to live in during the week and do not want to rent a room in a private house. Flats of this sort – with one or possibly two bedrooms – would have a modest kitchen (comparable to the facilities provided in some student accommodation) but the assumption would be that the tenants would have most (and possibly all) their meals in a restaurant that formed part of the development. This would provide something of a captive market for the restaurant, especially midweek, when there is likely to be less demand from non-residents. If a new building on the site of the Chesterfield Hotel was a three-storey development, the ground floor would have the usual range of restaurant, bar, lounge and kitchen, the first floor a small number of good quality letting bedrooms, and the second floor perhaps half a dozen flats.

Finally, it is worth stressing how centrally Chesterfield is placed for the main-line railway network. As in most provincial towns, the emphasis tends to be on the service to London (which is very good), but thanks to the town’s position between two major junctions, it is also possible to get direct trains to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Norwich, Bristol and Birmingham, as well of course as Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby. Not many towns the size of Chesterfield can offer this. This might also be a selling point for anyone thinking of basing themselves in a service flat close to the station in Chesterfield, which would at the same time be within easy walking distance of the facilities available in a medium-sized town.

We hope that when the redevelopment of the Chesterfield Hotel site comes to be considered, the case for continuing to use it in the same way as it has been since the land was first built-up in the 1870s will be borne in mind, rather than settling for just building another office block, which could go elsewhere in the town.

January 2020

This post can be downloaded as a PDF here

 

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Society was held at the St. Thomas’s Centre on Thursday September 5th. The Chairman and Secretary presented their reports, and the Committee reconfirmed with the following changes. Daniel Botham has stepped down, and Darrell Clark will now take his place at the monthly meeting.

The Chairman and Secretary deliver their reports

The brief meeting was followed by our guest speaker Dr. Hugh Ellis, the Policy Director of the Town and Country Planning Association.

In an engrossing talk he took us through the history of the Garden City Movement and most importantly linked it firmly to our own town and district. The influence and importance of Edward Carpenter and Raymond Unwin in our local environment were fully explored. The thought that Letchworth and all that ensued grew from meetings around a kitchen table at Millthorpe is inspiring.

His talk finished with a discussion of the significance of the Boythorpe Estate, and the importance of St. Andrew’s Church in Barrow Hill. A group discussion followed, and our thanks are owed to Hugh for a most stimulating and thought-provoking evening.

Thanks are also owed to Janet Murphy for the work she has done on the history of Chesterfield Council housing and Boythorpe, and a link to a detailed history can be found below.

A full history of the Boythorpe Estate can be found here

NOTICE OF CIVIC SOCIETY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

The Annual General meeting will be held on Thursday 5th Sept. at 7.30pm in the Studio at the St.Thomas Centre, Chatsworth Road.  All members and any prospective members are invited to attend.

Our talk is from Dr. Hugh Ellis on ‘Chesterfield: Cradle of the Garden City Movement’. 

Hugh Ellis Town Country Planning



Our distinguished speaker is the Policy Director of the Town & Country Planning Association (www.tcpa.org.uk/ )

Doors open 7pm.  Members free. Visitors welcome £2.00.

For location details and directions , please click on the picture .

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE CADFHS LOCAL HISTORY FAIR

CADFHS Fair Proact Stadium DRS
CADFHS Fair Proact Stadium Overview

This week saw the launch of our Chairman’s latest book ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ on Thursday, and it was featured also at the Chesterfield and District Family History Society Fair on Saturday. The Civic Society featured our Blue Plaques on our display, standing with the Derbyshire Record Society and Victoria History.

CADFHS Fair Proact Stadium VHS

The Fair was well attended, and the steady flow of visitors ensured many interesting and mutually beneficial conversations.

CADFHS Fair Proact Stadium Riden McPhie

Our thanks go to  CADFHS for once again arranging the event, and we look forward to attending next year. 

CADFHS Fair Proact Stadium Civic

A Long-Awaited Book Launch

Chesterfield
Streets and Houses

By Philip Riden, Chris Leteve and Richard Sheppard

A major new study of how the town centre has evolved, street by street and house by house. Come to the launching on 16 May 2019 and get this new 200-page, colour-illustrated hardback at the offer
price of £15.

Chesterfield evolved in the twelfth century from a village into a market town, as it remains today. Until the Industrial Revolution, the built-up area was confined to a compact grid of streets centred on a large market place. Today, these streets retain a variety of buildings dating from about 1500 to recent times. This new study looks at how the town centre has developed and at the history of each individual house within the area.

The book, published by the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust, runs to 212 pages (A4 format), with 16 maps and 12 pages of colour plates. It will be launched at a meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday 16 May 2019 at St Thomas’ Church Centre, Chatsworth Road. Come along and buy a copy for £15 (normal retail price £20).

Admission Free

St Thomas’ Centre

For location details and directions, please click on the picture.

The information leaflet about the book can be downloaded here.