Construction has started on a six-storey office development at the heart of Chester’s new £100m Central Business Quarter.

The 70,000sq ft of office space by Chester Railway Station, to be known as One City Place, is being developed speculatively by Muse Developments and represents the first of seven buildings which could accommodate about 3,500 jobs by 2028.

The BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated building, due for completion in October 2015, will feature a large ground floor foyer and reception area with five upper floors offering flexible office space and floor-to-ceiling glazing to allow for natural light.

Work will also start in the next couple of months on remodelling part of the Grade II-listed Chester Railway Station building and former rail car park to create a new landscaped attractive public realm area and gateway from the station into the Central Business Quarter.

Muse development director Phil Mayall accepts there is a risk with any speculative project that it won’t fill up but must be comforted by the fact Cheshire West and Chester Council has agreed to act as guarantor to the tune of £11.5m.

Video Loading
 

Expressing optimism for the future, he said: “What we have found encouraging is we are already receiving enquiries so while I can’t stand here today and say company X will be taking so many square feet, what we are really encouraged by is that we have had people already make contact with us, which is fantastic.”

Another concern is the Business Quarter could simply pull companies out of the existing Chester Business Park, but Phil responded: “I think there's a danger that you fall into the trap of saying companies will look at the same space whether out of town or in town.

“We should be providing a choice and that’s exactly what this is about, so it isn’t an out-of-town versus in-town situation.

“Has Chester got anything in town at the moment? No, it hasn’t and we should be providing it.”

The whole scheme includes 200 homes, restaurants and leisure facilities and car parking for the station, offices and residents.

It will also include the redevelopment of the former Leadworks and Shot Tower for residential use by Neptune Developments and the transformation of the Boughton Retail Centre to create a new Waitrose store and associated retail units.

Phil praised the council and Chester Renaissance for taking the initiative in the best interests of the city.

“I just think it’s an incredibly exciting time for the city, it was the city itself looking at what it needs and it feels it needs to sustain its economy. It wasn't Muse turning up and saying ‘Chester, we’ve got a good idea why don’t you have this?’ ”

Renaissance chairman Eric Langton said the One City Plan dove-tailed a series of strategies focusing on areas such as transport, waterways and culture.

He added: “So you create a social atmosphere, a health atmosphere, a welfare atmosphere, a really lovely place to live and work.

“And this is a fantastic example of creating a top quality facility and environment for workers and I know from some of the enquiries that it has created a lot of interest.”

Works have already been completed by the council, in partnership with Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales, to relocate the rail car park to the east of Chester Railway Station.

The new 193 space car park for customers and staff is now located on land bounded by the rear of the Queen Hotel and Queen's Road.

This autumn, work will commence on hard landscaping, tree and flower bed planting, lighting and the implementation of street furniture running from the Central Business Quarter gateway to One City Place.