• Jess Swain

Chesterfield: Vacant Shops to Independent Buzz


We wanted to share our positive story relating to Chesterfield and Vicar Lane Shopping Centre, a town which offers bags of history and where the future looks bright. The team at Barker Proudlove have been involved with all leasing matters at Vicar Lane for some years now, and working in partnership with owners Alterx we are so proud of its transformation.


This is largely thanks to the Landlord’s innovative approach. Alterx purchased Vicar Lane in late 2018 and instantly recognised the potential of Chesterfield town centre and Vicar Lane being an intrinsic part of the town. At the time of the purchase one area in particular, namely Steeplegate was a street that was quiet with a growing number of empty and outdated shops as national retailers vacated.


2019 was the year of change, with the team developing and launching an initiative that would make physical retail spaces in Chesterfield more accessible. Substantial investment was made, and speculatively, whereby the outdated units on Steeplegate were transformed into modern, fit for purpose spaces and crucially made available on flexible leases and a one cost all-inclusive rental.


The initiative was designed with local and regional independents in mind and soon conversations began. First to open their doors were local businesses Rate Cute and Shop Indie in September and October 2019. Both offered a beautiful curation of makers and artists in inspiring spaces. Lisa and John, the owners of Shop Indie, sought to bring back to the high street the experience and excitement of finding new products that are unique to any other town.



Shortly after these openings, we welcomed Clarissa’s Interiors and Nana B’s Boutique. These two businesses offered luxury home accessories and unique childrenswear. Both stores fitted into Steeplegate perfectly and have continued to grow and succeed.


Next up Chesterfield welcomed Gorilla Garms - a popular online vintage store well known across Derbyshire, and Precious Memories - a new bridal and prom boutique shop.


The initiative was building in excitement and it was clear that confidence in Chesterfield and specifically a previously failing street was growing. Even during the lockdowns when many feared the worst for their local high street, Vicar Lane stood strong and as we make our way out of restrictions, the centre has reopened in positive fashion with all of our independent businesses reopening their doors.


The centre also recently welcomed a new face in Vintage Tearooms who made the decision to relocate within the town. Sharon Hilton, the owner of Vintage Tearooms has expertly transformed the former Carphone Warehouse unit during the beginning of 2021 into a unique tea room which the community of Chesterfield has welcomed with open arms (we too can confirm the cake is incredible!).



The addition of foodies to Vicar Lane continues, as deal terms have been agreed with another exciting local food & drink trader to take over the jewel in Vicar Lane’s crown - Unit 25 beneath the imposing media screen and fronting on to St James’ Square. We can’t wait to make further announcements regarding the operator and when they will be set to open.


The story of Vicar Lane shows what can be achieved when businesses are there to take a chance and owners are there to provide the opportunity and commit to the investment required to make it happen. Chesterfield shows that physical retail can provide an experience that can’t simply be achieved online, and a rewarding experience for both business owners and customers alike.



This story is not yet finished, and there are still opportunities for businesses to create their own piece of Chesterfield’s future history. We want to hear from other makers, bakers and crafters… It’s never been easier to get involved. Just get in touch with Jess or Mark to have a friendly chat about the opportunity.



To find out more about flexible Chesterfield opportunities, visit the Chesterfield page on the website. Also keep your eye on our social media pages for the latest news on openings and availability. To keep up to date with Vicar Lane Shopping Centre in general, head on over to their Facebook and Instagram pages.