Bolsover hopes for a new era with town revamp

Former mining town Bolsover has a proud industrial past and a rich heritage with an internationally acclaimed castle.

However, in recent times following the demise of the coal industry it has suffered with high unemployment and has struggled to get back on its feet.

Bolsover town centre.

Bolsover town centre.

But with plans for new multi-million pound Morrisons superstore - following the sale of Bolsover District Council’s former offices - and a council-backed Discover Bolsover project to revamp the town centre, some believe better times lie ahead.

And the district council is asking residents to help them shape the town and district’s Local Plan including views on possible new housing, leisure and business developments.

Discover Bolsover also aims to draw in more tourists and boost the economy with a £750,000 European regional development funded revamp of the town secured by the district council.

The facelift aims to tie in with Bolsover Castle and entice visitors to historic town attractions including the castle’s Conduit Houses, the New Bolsover Model Village, and 12th century entrenchments.

Work has started on the town centre with NM Construction Plc building a new public realm. The project will be complete by November, ready for the a World War One commemoration and the Bolsover Christmas Lantern Parade.

Bolsover District Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration Councillor Alan Tomlinson said: “We’re looking forward to seeing the transformation take place. The new public realm will show off what the town has to offer, while highlighting our rich heritage, helping residents and businesses benefit from the tourist pull of Bolsover Castle.”

The current £398,000 of improvements will include stone planters, a lighting scheme, stone bollards around the cenotaph, stone and oak benching, and electric points to support events.

European money has been matched by funding from High Street Innovation Funding, Bolsover District Council and Old Bolsover Town Council, to make Castle Street and the Cenotaph area more attractive and to boost trade. New signage, plus a programme of family events are also planned.

Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner previously said: “It’s fantastic to see Bolsover being given proper investment that will really show off the best of what our town has to offer. The castle brings in thousands of visitors every year, and it’s great to see the residents and traders being given a chance to make the most of it.”

In addition, a multi-million pound deal for a new Morrisons supermarket and petrol station on the former Bolsover District Council office site, off Oxcroft Lane, in Bolsover, is hoped to provide a huge economic boost with plans for a new council Contact Centre on the Middle Street car park underway.

The regeneration is hoped to bring increased choice for consumers, increased footfall, the creation of over 200 jobs, improvements to the highway and to the Stratton Road Memorial Garden. There will also be additional car parking, according to the council, and new public toilets in the new contact centre.

Residents who spoke to the Derbyshire Times on October 16 are welcoming plans and efforts to improve Bolsover but have raised concerns about the impact of changes on green space, a lack of leisure facilities and the possible impact of a superstore on other businesses.

Bolsover resident Michael Hayes, 64, said: “I think the tourist trade exists anyway with Bolsover Castle and doing this bit extra to the town centre won’t make a big difference.

“I think money could have been put to better use. Sadly, I don’t think Bolsover is on the up and it is still struggling since the loss of the pits.

“I would like to see more open space. Some of the places where the council is planning to have possible housing is ridiculous like the old, contaminated Coalite site.

“A new Morrisons will help residents and I don’t think it should affect too many other shops apart from maybe butcher’s and greengrocer’s.”

From October 20, Bolsover District Council begins a six-week public consultation to consider and include comments and ideas within its Local Plan.

The Local Plan will set out strategic policies to guide new development across the town and district and help identify the best sites over the next 20 years.

The council is inviting people, organisations, companies, landowners, developers and anyone who has an interest to tell them what they think the Local Plan should contain.

Bolsover District Council Planning Committee Chairman, Councillor Duncan McGregor, said, “This Plan will be the blueprint for what development will take place across our District in the next twenty years, so it is important that people come along, talk to us and have their say.

“We are starting from pretty much a blank canvas, but what we want to create are thriving towns and villages where people are happy to live, work and play.”

Bolsover town residents and workers have raised a mix of views with the derbyshire Times over changes and plans.

Geoff Hayes, of Bolsover, said: “I would like to see a leisure centre. I’m a concerned how the town can accommodate new housing and if there is an new estate we will need other things to accommodate roads and schools.

“There is a lot of work that needs doing in the town and it needs tidying.

“A new Morrisons will be good thing because it will provide choice although people say a big store in Staveley has killed smaller businesses.”

Former Bolsover resident Martin Spencer said: “I think improvements to the town centre are nice and I would like to see Bolsover become more of a tourist place.

“Morrisons should be good because there is no big store at the moment and people have to go to Staveley. More housing can be a good idea but too much could lead to overcrowding in a small town like Bolsover.”

Chris Christopher, of Goddard and White News, said he would like to have seen a swimming pool for Bolsover and has raised concerns the arrival of Morrisons will mean a loss of green space.

He added: “I wonder how many people’s views were considered before the work on the town centre public realm was decided because I would like to have seen more done with footpaths or public toilets. But I do agree that it will improve the area and help tie in well with tourism with Bolsover castle.”

Butcher Craig Hunt, of Robert Bowring butcher’s, said: “The town’s improving and it’s okay but people tend to go to the castle and stay at the castle and then go home. There’s a good car park behind the market that was ripped up and it’s been left for the last two years and it needs attention.

“A new big store in Staveley seems to have devastated that town so I’m not looking forward to Morrisons coming to Bolsover.”

Colin Field, 52, of Hillstown, Bolsover, said: “Morrisons will take away green land and I don’t think there was a great deal wrong with the town that needed tidying. I’d like to see some public toilets.

“I don’t want to see more housing because I don’t think the roads could deal with any more traffic.”

Lynn Wheeldon, 53, of Bolsover, said: “I’m disabled so a Morrisons will help me get everything I need in one place. It’s good to keep the town tidy and smart but my big concern is that there is not enough for children to do and I would like to see some new leisure facilities and activities.”

Drop in sessions:

The district council is running drop-in sessions so the public can see proposals and ask about the Local Plan affecting the whole district.

The dates and times of these are:

29 October: 4-7pm, The Arc, High Street, Clowne

30 October: 4-7pm, Post Mill Centre, South Normanton

3 November: 4-7pm, The Assembly Rooms, Bolsover

11 November: 4-7pm, Shirebrook Leisure Centre, Shirebrook

Comments can be made online from www.bolsover.gov.uk/new-local-plan or on the prepared representation form but need to be returned to the Council by 5pm on Friday 28 November 2014.

The Council will consider all representations received and the findings of evidence reports and based on this information the Council will prepare its preferred options for the Local Plan and the reasonable alternatives for further consultation in October/November 2015.

Information about the consultation exercise and the overall timetable for preparing the Local Plan for Bolsover District can be viewed at www.bolsover.gov.uk/new-local-plan and the District’s four contact centres and seven libraries.