Agenda item

Review of Town Centre Regeneration Framework - Shirebrook


The Scrutiny & Elections Officer explained the various documents that had been presented to Members as part of the review, including a supplementary report covering the villages and hamlets in the Shirebrook area.


The Business Growth Manager presented a review of Shirebrook Town Centre Framework, acknowledging the Committee’s original review plan to take each town area in turn.  The Framework had originally been commissioned in autumn 2015, and had highlighted a range of public and private interventions that could be made to improve the town centre.


As agreed at the previous meeting, officers had produced a scorecard which analysed progress against the various elements of the Framework.  On reflection, the Framework document had not guided development and many elements remained undelivered as the document had been aspirational in nature requiring additional buy-in from Town and Parish Councils to engage in the development plans themselves.  Where funding had not been in place, many ideas had been difficult to deliver.


It was noted that the previous Regeneration Frameworks to some extent also sat outside a wider strategy for development and there was not a bank of costed projects ready to put forward to support the area.  While the intention of the frameworks had been to lever investment, the lack of costed projects had made them almost impossible to deliver.  As there was insufficient evidence base within the document, additional research was now being commissioned in order to evidence and cost the projects that could regenerate the town centre.


Of the seven core delivery objectives, two had been completed, largely as a result of the Building Resilience programme.  A further objective; ‘Remodel of the Market Place’, was ongoing.  This had been supported by local crowd funding for a Miner’s Memorial statue and officers were awaiting the outcome of a bid to the Cultural Development Fund.


In relation to the third objective listed in the Framework, 24 bungalows were scheduled to be erected on the Ashbourne Street/Portland Road site.  Ashbourne Court was also under redevelopment and would be extended creating further independent living provision.


In relation to objective 7; ‘Pleasley Vale Loop’, a lot of work had taken place on trails development with the Tourism Officer and the Countryside Officer from Leisure Services.


The Stepping Stone projects, highlighted to Members, were largely beyond the Council’s control and required action by the Town Council to progress them.


The Business Rates Retention Programme was helping to deliver Shop Front Improvements.  There had been low take-up to date but money was still available for local businesses.  The Programme offered up to 80% of the improvement costs to encourage greater up-take and support was also being provided with building contractors.


The work on additional greenways, within and out of the town centre, had come to a halt as all previously identified routes had proved non-deliverable.


Following the initial updates Members discussed the information presented:


Q: The route down Main Street in to the town centre had an appalling view and needed significant investment.  There needed to be far better signage and clearer gateways in to the centre of town – was this being looked at?


A: There was now potential for residential development in that area and it was hoped that a number of the derelict sites would be converted over the coming months which should greatly improve the area.


Q: A key issue was how to regenerate the centre when the shops/businesses would not come back to the town.  How do we do this?


A: It was noted there had been a big shift in the type of businesses in the area, particularly during, and post pandemic.  There was now a much higher percentage of service sector businesses rather than retail and this was something to be mindful of when engaging with prospective businesses.


Comment: A BBC article had been released which highlighted the change in business types within the Bolsover area.  It highlighted an increase in service-based business such as beauty and piercing/tattooists, a reduction in fish and chip shops (against national trend), and loss of national chain businesses amongst other statistics.


Q: Was there a reason for the loss of established retailers, was there a pattern?


A: Many businesses had moved to an online model, others had simply gone as a result of market pressures.  There had been a big shift to larger footprint premises often on the outskirts of town, e.g., M&S in Chesterfield.  A piece of work was needed to understand the issues businesses were facing.


Q: Had we considered the issue of the potential loss of the Frasers Group from Shirebrook, given their proposal to develop a new site in the south?


A: The new site had been promoted as an additional site to Shirebrook rather than a replacement but officers were keeping a watching brief on how things developed.


Q: How could we direct Pleasley based business to support?


A: Unfortunately the shop front improvement scheme did not cover Pleasley.  It may be that if there was low uptake of funding then we may be able to stretch to cover the neighbouring villages/hamlets.


Q: What support could Pleasley and New Houghton access?


A: Officers from the Development team would be in touch with the ward Member to advise, however, there was nothing specific targeted at Pleasley and New Houghton.


Q: Was the Council in danger of chasing a retail offer that was in decline – should focus be on another development option?


A: This was something that officers were currently developing, with a focus on cultural activities and development of cafes/bars and the night-time economy within town centres.  As town centres were used less as retail hubs, it was important to realise their potential for creating community focal points.  At this point officers were not aware of any cafes/eating places operating in Shirebrook, as was the case in other town centres.


Comment:  A Member noted there were three such businesses on the market place but was not sure if additional businesses like that were required based on the impact that could have on existing establishments.


Q: When driving through the town centre past the Gate Hotel, all that was seen were the backs of the terraced properties rather than the market place.  Could something be done to improve the look of the area via murals or screening?


A: This was something that the Planning Policy team were looking at as part of the Growth Plan development and feedback gathered today would help to shape the next steps as part of the current consultation process.  A Cultural Development Fund bid had been made through the Arts Council and BDC was classed as a priority area and had been invited to engage with the second stage of bidding.  A key issue was having clarity over the potential investment costs and also gaining a better understanding of what DCC planned to invest.  Transport links would play a big part in ensuring any cultural developments were fully accessible.  Real-time bus services were part of the DCC Bus Improvement Plan.  Other areas for investment included signage; public realm of the outer market square area; investment in the exterior of the square including the rear view of various properties.  The Cultural Development Fund bid was crucial.


Comment:  Having witnessed redevelopment of other market squares around the country, the more successful developments had taken a traditional approach using heritage colours, and keeping a uniform theme to the shop fronts 


Q: Could we consider some form of conservation design policy for our town centres, moving forward?


A: This would need raising with Planning Policy as part of Local Plan delivery.


Moved by Councillor Derek Adams and seconded by Councillor Tracey Cannon.

RESOLVED that (1) the contents of the report be noted,


(2) The findings of the report be compared with the forthcoming reviews of the remaining Regeneration Frameworks to inform next steps.


(Assistant Director of Development & Planning/ Business Growth Manager/ Scrutiny & Elections Officer)


Supporting documents: