PLANS for Chester’s new bus interchange on Gorse Stacks have now reached their next stage of development.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWaC) executive agreed detailed design work on the interchange can begin and a full round of public consultation will take place between August and October.
A report before councillors from Charlie Seward, director of growth and prosperity, said: “The relocation of the bus interchange will unlock the economic growth benefits of the Northgate scheme as well as supporting the development of major employment generating uses now under development within Chester Business Quarter.”
Cllr Lynda Jones, executive member for growth and innovation, said: “The delivery of the new bus interchange was one of the critically inter-dependent projects necessary to enable the Northgate scheme to progress its planned programme.
“I am also proposing a formal design review exercise would be carried out to ensure the final design is of a quality appropriate to Chester.”
Cllr Jones said the building would be “a much improved facility, providing enhanced public transport accessibility to the city centre and the new central business quarter”.
The report said the existing bus interchange is inadequate for a city with Chester’s profile as a quality visitor destination and highlighted the impact any delay in expediting design work on the new interchange would have for the delivery of the Northgate programme.
The interchange is expected to provide transport related benefits for the city including:
l Better integration between bus and rail services.
l Reduced delays and congestion and more consistent journey times.
l Improved integration of bus services and better air quality in key areas of the city.
l Increase in bus patronage and lower levels of single car occupancy.
Cllr Sam Dixon, opposition group leader and local Chester member, said: “This interchange should not be seen in isolation.
“It has to become part of a more comprehensive offer for people with mobility needs to get around the city centre and I would put forward that this includes better use of existing services such as Park and Ride which currently come in, drop off and go out. The circulation around the city is key and is really important.”
The Chester Transport package was subject to a bid for local growth funding through the Local Enterprise Partnership.
This has been confirmed by the Government, with £13.5m awarded including funding for the bus interchange.
Detailed designs for the project will now be created and archaeological work and ground investigations will be carried out on site.
There will be detailed discussions with local residents and businesses and consultation with bus users from across the borough from August until October.
There will be more detailed discussion with disability access groups to ensure the design solution meets their needs and a web-based consultation with the public in relation to the design of the bus interchange and the range of facilities it should offer.
Cllr Charles Fifield, chairman of CWaC’s Corporate Disability Access Forum, welcomed the commitment to ongoing discussion and said an accessible ‘shopper hopper’ connecting different parts of Chester with the bus interchange could be part of the way forward.
It is anticipated a planning application could be considered by the end of 2014.
The planning process will allow for further consultation on the detailed design.
If planning permission is granted, the bus interchange could open in late 2016.
See full story in the Chester Leader