An advert has been placed seeking a construction partner to deliver the £300m retail-driven Northgate regeneration scheme in Chester city centre.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has posted the ad in the Official Journal of the European Union marking an important milestone in making the vision become a reality.
The contractor will be appointed to work alongside the council and its professional advisors to develop the design, test ‘buildability’ and manage out risk.
And the first stage of the appointment will be limited to developing the design proposals.
The council recently made a Compulsory Purchase Order and served notices on a number of properties in the development area to secure the land.
However, there is confusion over whether the build programme is on schedule.
In May last year, CWaC said phase one could begin this autumn but now there is talk of construction not commencing until late 2018.
A press release at the time read: “Phase one which is forecast to start in autumn 2017 will see the development of two restaurants within the shell of the current library building, a new market hall replacing the current Chester Market , a six screen cinema and a new, 167 bedroom 4 star hotel and conference centre, as a replacement for the Crowne Plaza Hotel which together with the Forum and several other buildings on the site would be demolished in 2019.
“Work would then begin on the second phase of construction to create the main retail offer, department store and residential.”
Now the council says: “Construction on the scheme could commence at the end of 2018 but will be dependent upon the Secretary of State confirming the Compulsory Purchase Order following completion of the statutory process. The council is currently leading the development of the project which will transform Chester and help drive the local, regional and tourist economies.”
Cllr Brian Clarke , cabinet member, economic development and infrastructure, said: “This is an exciting time for Northgate and Chester, the recent opening of the bus interchange and Storyhouse has demonstrated our commitment to the city and commencing the process of appointing a contractor for Chester Northgate is further evidence of our commitment and ambitions.”
Cllr Stuart Parker , shadow cabinet member, communities and wellbeing, added: “The start of the appointment process for the contractor is a clear indication of the pace that is being maintained on the delivery of this critical project. It is important that our historic city remains relevant and is a vibrant centre where people want to come to shop, live, work and spend their leisure time and Chester Northgate supports these ambitions.”
Contractors have until the end of September 2017 to respond to the advertisement, submissions will be assessed and contractors shortlisted by a team of council officers and professional advisors. Shortlisted contractors will be notified in October and invited to tender with an appointment of the successful contractor likely in February or March, 2018.
A high level of interest is anticipated due to the profile of the project and the fact that it is one of the largest city centre development schemes in the country.
The project will seek contractors with significant experience in large, city centre development schemes who will also need to demonstrate their ability to work in a historic environment given the impact that the city’s history has on development, particularly with regard to its archaeology.