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Calls for Chester's Northgate Street to be pedestrianised

City MP Chris Matheson supports idea in principle but doesn't know if it is feasible

Rod Cox, far right, chairman of Northgate Association Committee, along with other people attending a presentation to discuss the pedestrianisation of Northgate Street including Pauline Thompson, Jamie Northrop from Alexander's and Cheshire West and Chester Cllr Neil Sullivan.

Moves are afoot to lobby for the pedestrianisation of Northgate Street as part of radical changes taking place in Chester city centre.

Rod Cox, chairman of Northgate Association Committee, sees an opportunity to improve the trading environment tied in with the regeneration of the city through the £300m Northgate Development and £37m Storyhouse cultural centre.

He foresees a traffic-free street scene where tables and chairs can be placed outside in a ‘Bohemian quarter’ with lots of independent businesses based around arts, food, the evening economy and entertainment.

On Monday, he held presentations at Alexander’s in Rufus Court attended by Chester MP Chris Matheson and councillors Lynn Riley, Neil Sullivan, Brian Crowe and Richard Beacham plus Carolyn Bruce from Chester Cathedral.

Computer-generated images of the proposed Northgate Development.

Mr Cox said: “We want to reduce the traffic substantially on our part of Northgate Street. Yes, we have lost the buses. But the buses were about 700 a day and traffic flow altogether is about 4,000 vehicles a day so we are down to 3,000 or so vehicles a day so losing the buses is highly noticeable and it’s good.

“We want the street outside to be substantially pedestrianised so we can have tables and chairs out. We want a nice Bohemian quarter.”

His fear is the developers behind the Northgate Development will simply see Northgate Street as a service road for the market and theatre and ‘a nuisance’.

Mr Cox continued: “We believe that our plans open up opportunities much wider than Northgate Street, including a fully pedestrianised Town Hall Square, Eastgate Clock, Frodsham Street and elsewhere, and for very little cost.”

Chester Labour MP Chris Matheson (Image: David Holmes)

City MP Mr Matheson would like the ideas to be given ‘a fair hearing’ in discussions with highway engineers, architects and planners.

He said: “I think it’s a good idea having a time-restricted pedestrianisation of Northgate Street that would expand pedestrianisation. It’s just a question of whether they can do it. The very least he should hope for is that people explain why it can’t be done.”

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