THE regeneration of Ellesmere Port can now begin after councillors unanimously approved plans for a £16 million public sector hub.

More than 500 members of staff from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will move into the new hub, in Civic Way.

It will be built on the site of the town’s bus station, which will be relocated into state-of-the-art shelters along Civic Way, and host services including the Work Zone, DWP and CWaC customer services.

The move represents the first part of the Ellesmere Port masterplan for regeneration unveiled earlier this year, and it would allow the existing council offices to make way for further development.

Cllr Karen Shore, Labour CWaC member for Central and Grange, said: “There’s a very long history to the town centre, and people will be aware that there have also been a number of challenges that it has faced over the years.

“It came out very strongly throughout the consultation process that regeneration is something which is very important to the residents.

“The support is overwhelmingly positive – and I have to say, many of the comments are around the idea and the view that this is a long overdue and very welcome step towards the regeneration of the town.

“It’s much-needed, and people see this as exactly that – the first step, phase one in the journey.”

Cllr Richard Beacham, cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth, added that the scheme ‘fulfils the vision’ for Ellesmere Port and contribute towards the council’s environmental targets by replacing the old Civic Way offices with a more energy efficient replacement.

CWaC hopes that the scheme will boost footfall in the town centre, and days before Tuesday’s planning meeting the Port Arcades confirmed it would support the scheme, having initially raised concerns about the impact of the new bus station.

During the debate, Conservative Cllr Charles Fifield said: “I think this is an important addition for a town like Ellesmere Port where we can actually do something as a local authority to help bring more footfall and more people into the town centre.”

Work is expected to begin next January, with the hub expected to open in 2021, and half of the project’s cost will be met by the Government’s local growth fund.