New future for landmark Chesterfield building

13 February 2014

St Helena Centre on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, which we currently own, is to be taken over by the University of Derby.

Our Cabinet Member for Council Services, Councillor Brian Ridgway, said:

"I'm delighted that we've been able to give the University the opportunity to extend their work into Chesterfield. This is the best possible use for the St Helena Centre.

"The University will bring new jobs to the area and create opportunities for people from Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover to increase their qualifications and skills.

"We've just announced a £14.2m investment in the Markham Vale site and having a more skilled local workforce will make coming to Derbyshire a more attractive proposition for businesses."

The Centre, built in 1911 as a school, is Grade II Listed. The Girls School closed in the 1990s and we then used the building as offices until late 2013.

The acquisition of St Helena Centre will provide the University with an opportunity to further strengthen its work with the neighbouring Chesterfield College on Sheffield Road.

Major refurbishment would be required to bring the 2.2 acre site up to standard but, as a former school, many aspects of its layout lend themselves to further educational use. The University could have the new centre ready by mid-2016.

It will bring new jobs to Chesterfield, business support, business incubation, nursing, engineering and real world learning to the town.

Hari Punchihewa, Deputy Chief Executive and Finance Director at the University of Derby, said:

"We have been working for some time to extend our presence in the town.

"This strategic acquisition extends our options to be of service to the town of Chesterfield and to help the economic development through comprehensive business support to create jobs and bolster the higher education offer already in place there.

"The building itself is a wonderful structure which sits in a perfect location, being so close to town and the college.

"The University of Derby has proved before that it is excellent at taking special buildings and bringing them back to life. You only have to look at the Buxton Dome to realise that. It would be great to see the building returned to its original purpose for education but this is just one of the options open to the University."

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