A MULTIPLEX cinema, a market in the heart of the city and an enhanced central library form part of a new Northgate scheme announced by the council which they say could create up to 1,600 jobs.
The new concept for the retail-led project – planned to help Chester regain its place as a premier shopping city – was revealed yesterday by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
However, so far the authority has not released details of how much the scheme will cost, how it will be paid for or set a date for its creation.
The authority is to take control of the much-delayed project after terminating its long standing agreement with ING Real Estate Developers, who still own some of the land at Northgate.
The council’s project includes:
Greater leisure content, including a multiplex cinema and more restaurants
A central market and new and improved library
Substantial major store units including a department store and food and beverage space.
A new approach to bus provision
High quality city centre parking – both underground and multi-storey
Underground servicing allowing greater planning design flexibility.
The authority says the scheme would provide an estimated 1,600 permanent jobs within the scheme itself, plus a large number of construction jobs.
Over the next few months a cross-party working group will prepare a detailed feasibility and viability assessment, together with the preparation of a detailed scheme and business case to be reported to the executive in the summer.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member, prosperity, said: “The concept provides a vision for progress, which Chester so badly needs.
“A considerable amount of work remains to develop a scheme which will generate the support and ‘buy in’ to move forward to the planning stage.
“There is a risk to going it alone but after detailed consideration and recommendations from our professional national advisors, we consider that risk manageable.”
Cllr Ben Powell, Labour’s regeneration spokesman, said: “Despite the current negative economic climate Chester’s regional retail offer is still ranked in the top ‘blue chip’ category.
“The inescapable conclusion is that there is both a demand and an overriding economic need for Northgate.
“It is incumbent on the working group to ensure the final concept is sensitive to the needs of our many stakeholders.”
Cllr Powell, also a member of the Northgate working group, added: “We cannot stand still. Given the strong regional competition, we must act on Northgate to ensure that the city can compete with the best.”
The council says the new scheme will be sensitive to Chester’s historic environment ensuring a joined-up approach for the Northgate Project, the new theatre, Town Hall Square and cathedral precinct.