What is the future of retail? With the right thinking, retail spaces can become community assets, where people gain skills and training from local businesses, and businesses get to tap into local talent.
Landlords are aware that demand for brick-and-mortar stores is in decline, but they are not dead yet. So how can the high street evolve to flourish in the future? We helped Alterx turn Vicar Lane shopping centre in Chesterfield into a centre of entrepreneurialism and entrepreneurship.
Real estate investors Alterx acquired Chesterfield’s Vicar Lane shopping centre in 2018. Famed for its crooked spire, Chesterfield has a proud industrial heritage, although little evidence of its mining industry survives today.
The client needed to understand the key social issues facing the people of Chesterfield before developing a masterplan for the town centre, so they asked for our help. They were particularly committed to improving provision for younger people in poorly-served areas such as employment and affordable leisure.
Whilst Alterx was keen to create social value for local people, they also wanted to explore the role of tourism in light of the impact of HS2 in the area. So we worked with them to identify positive and realistic effects that a reimagined Vicar Lane shopping centre could create for local people and tourists. Then we used this research to identify impact goals and measures that would inform their masterplan for Vicar Lane and future acquisitions in the town.
Our findings from interviews and time spent with key stakeholders living and working in Chesterfield helped Alterx identify local partners who could play a key role in helping to transform asset management operations. We helped build trust between the client and local residents, and strengthened their ties with anchor institutions that would enable Alterx not only to tap into local resources, but also deliver value in return where it was most needed.
Our strategic recommendations helped the client to:
- Transform Vicar Lane into a national tourist destination;
- Grow the local economy and provide inclusive employment opportunities for local people;
- Take a more coordinated approach to asset management by building partnerships with the Borough Council, local private businesses, social enterprises and the voluntary and community sector; and
- Diversify its commercial customer base, attracting and retaining new occupiers and delivering change for the people of Chesterfield.
We are delighted to be continuing to support Alterx in delivering plans for acquisitions in two other UK towns.