Up to seven funding options are available to deliver the long-awaited £300m Northgate Development city centre regeneration scheme.
This claim is included in the minutes of the Chester Growth Partnership following a presentation by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s senior construction manager Clare Huber last year.
The detail is heartening as major investors must be attracted to transform what is now a fully approved plan into a reality.
Big name anchors recently signed up to the project including House of Fraser to deliver the department store on the site of the existing Crowne Plaza hotel who in turn are committed to operating from bigger and better facilities nearby. Picturehouse Cinemas will run a six-screen bespoke venue above a new market hall.
The House of Fraser anchor prelet in particular greatly increases the chances of Northgate securing the funding needed to finally deliver the 500,000 sq ft retail development after previous false starts and redesigns.
The minutes from last September’s meeting state: “There are seven potential funding options for the project, with the creation of funding, construction and letting strategies taking place. Subject to planning and full council approval, enabling works will start on site in April/May 2017 with completion at the end of 2020.”
And Ms Huber offered insight into why this latest version of Northgate was more likely to succeed.
“The difference of previous schemes to the current scheme now factors in the level of investment in the city totalling £100m, which includes the theatre and new bus interchange,” reveal the minutes.
“CWaC are currently landowners of 85% of the Northgate footprint. Phase 0 incorporates the current library, which will be moving into Storyhouse, to create two new restaurants.”
A full meeting of CWaC discussed the project in December where members agreed to seek ministerial permission to move Chester market and issue orders to buy up private land in the regeneration area.
But it is unclear whether the crucial investment and delivery strategy, due to go before the full council by the end of the year, was presented.
However, there was a confidential discussion at the December 15 meeting entitled ‘Post-planning development strategy’ later minuted as: “Council considered a report of the director of corporate services concerning the continuation of the Chester Northgate scheme in line with a robust risk management approach including the use of gateway milestones.”
Alison Knight, CWaC’s director of place strategy, told The Chronicle: “There are a number of different funding options that we are reviewing for the Northgate scheme, however, the detail is currently commercially sensitive.
“Strutt and Parker is the council’s appointed funding advisor and work is ongoing to deliver the funding strategy approved by cabinet and council in November 2016.”