New vision for city centre unveiled


Staff reporter

CHESTER’S mothballed Northgate Development has been resurrected having lain dormant for 12 years.

In 2000 ING Real Estate and the former Chester City Council unveiled ambitious £460 million plans to regenerate the city centre.

But the scheme failed to get off the ground with both the council and the developers blaming the global financial crisis.

Growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) ditched ING in February and took control of the project.

The authority has now unveiled its own plan designed to make the city centre more vibrant and to boost trade.

Plans include developing new shops, restaurants and cafes along with a multiplex cinema near the proposed £40.5m theatre and library.

Chester Market would move to the Princess Street bus exchange and Town Hall Square would be redesigned with traditional street layouts and open space courtyards forming an integral part of the development.

CWaC estimates the scheme has the potential to create more than 1,600 jobs, increase spending by £143m and bring in an extra £8m through rates.

Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for regeneration, said: “In January the council made a clear commitment to Northgate as the key to the future of Chester and we are determined to move forward with the scheme.

“I believe our masterplan has the potential to provide a major boost to the regeneration of Chester and to establishing the city as national and regional leisure and visitor destination.”

Executive members are being asked to consider and approve the plan when they meet on Wednesday.

If accepted, the proposals would go out to public consulation before returning to the executive for final approval early next year.

Cllr Manley said: “I hope many businesses and stakeholders engage in the consultation and feed back their comments to us.

“We will be talking to all landowners within the area as part of the public engagement process.”

The concept design has been produced with support from a cross-party working group chaired by deputy council leader Les Ford.

The design team includes architects ACME, cost consultatnts Davis Langdon, transport and archaeology specialists WSP and commercial experts DTZ.

Cllr Samantha Dixon, who represents the city centre and sat on the cross-party working group, said: “I welcome a balanced political group working towards a viable solution to one of the most important aspects of Chester’s future sustainability.

“I look forward to hearing the views of residents and business-people on the new proposals.”

Key aspects of the new proposals

New retail units together with an increased leisure offer, including restaurants, cafes and multi-screen cinema.

Replacing the market at a key location closely linked to the new theatre and library, restaurants and cinema.

New and refurbished car parking for about 1,000 cars.

New open setting for the refurbished Town Hall, together with new ‘courtyard’ open spaces and a comprehensive approach to the redesign and use of Town Hall Square.

Returning the former street pattern of the Northgate area, improved linkages to the rest of the city and a scale of development in keeping with the city.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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