New future for Chesterfield building

The University of Derby has purchased a Grade II listed former school in Chesterfield to support its growing presence in town

The acquisition of the St Helena Centre from Derbyshire County Council provides 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. The proposal has already been well received by Destination Chesterfield, which coordinates efforts to promote 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.’

The centre was built in 1911 as a school. The girls’ school closed in the 1990s and the council then used the building as offices until late 2013.

 

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