Events and localised social media activity could be the key to revitalising and growing Chesterfield’s high street, believes Polly Barnfield OBE, a member of the government’s High Street task force, who recently spoke at the 2019 Chesterfield Investment Summit.
Speaking at the sell-out annual event, which was held at Casa Hotel, Ms Barnfield, who has been named as one of the top 100 influential women in technology, advised: “Engagement with the community around you is key. You can’t just sell your own product on social media if you want to be successful. Retailers should post on social media every day and talk to their audience not just about what is happening in their business but around them.”
Events and social media have been at the forefront of driving footfall to Chesterfield’s Vicar Lane Shopping Centre by its new owners, ALTERIS.
ALTERIS bought Vicar Lane Shopping Centre out of administration earlier this year promising to create ‘a new town centre retail model for the post e-commerce world’. Regular events are held at Vicar Lane, including Footie Friday, Motor Fest and the forthcoming 1940s festival. It has also successfully used the online platform Maybe* over the last six months to increase footfall by 36%.
ALTERIS has also recently applied for permission to install a giant LED screen outside to be used for entertainment and events.
Events form a key component of the plans for the new canal basin at Chesterfield Waterside, which was constructed in 2009, thanks to £2.4million of grant funding from Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
Once the restoration is complete, there are plans to have canal boating festivals, fun runs, event screens and food festivals at Basin Square, making the new neighbourhood a busy commercial and residential environment contributing to Chesterfield’s local economy.
Work is currently underway to renovate and refurbish all 46 miles of the Chesterfield canal, which runs from North Gainsborough to Staveley. When the remaining eight miles are brought back to use, thanks to the Trust’s £20million Closing the Gap project, it will be for the first time in 107 years that the full length of the canal is navigable. Part of the renovation will involve connecting the basin to the canal providing the opportunity for canal boating festivals at Basin Square.
Peter Swallow, Chair of Destination Chesterfield and Managing Director of Bolstertone Plc, the company behind Chesterfield Waterside, also spoke at the event, which was organised by Destination Chesterfield, Derbyshire Economic Partnership and Marketing Derby and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. He highlighted the town’s successful public-private sector partnership approach to investment: “Chesterfield is a town of opportunity and we have the partners and collaboration in place to drive forward our ambitions to not only deliver our current development plans but also attract further investment and continue to grow.”
Basin Square will be an exciting new venue and public realm space for events, festivals and markets. The multi-functional space will comprise build-to-rent apartments, a multi-storey car park, an office building and an 84-bed hotel.
Located next to Chesterfield Train Station, Basin Square is optimally placed for visitors and workers to access the town centre.
With Chesterfield set to have an HS2 stop at the station by 2034, exciting plans for the redevelopment of Chesterfield Railway Station, which includes greater accessibility and connectivity to the town centre from the station, were also unveiled at the Investment Summit.
Chesterfield-based Whittam Cox Architects have created a fly-through video of plans for the redevelopment of the station which can be viewed here.
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