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New Chester bus station is alive (literally)!

Grass is growing on the roof to improve air quality and improve biodiversity and wildlife

The under-construction Chester Bus Interchange at Gorse Stacks which features a grass roof.

Will a man from the council have to go up and cut the grass on the roof of the new Chester bus station?

This is just one of the comments overheard about the under-construction £13.5m bus interchange at Gorse Stacks which does indeed feature an eco-friendly grass roof.

And a visitor to King Charles Tower, which affords great views of the new building, asked if Chester was building its own cycling velodrome because of its elliptical shape.

Vegetation on the roof is actually made up of a mix of mature sedum plants placed on top of a layer of soil. And apparently it will be allowed to grow wild and won't need mowing.

Cllr Karen Shore, Graham Construction project manager Martin Bambrick and Christine Gaskell, chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership on the roof of the new bus interchange.

The green roof will help to improve air quality, biodiversity and wildlife in the city centre as well as reducing the effect of the drainage run off on the local sewer network.

Those behind the bus station argue the roof also has aesthetic benefits and creates a more pleasant view from the walls and other tall buildings in the surrounding area.

Earlier this week representatives of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Marketing Cheshire were given a tour of the interchange by main contractor Graham Construction including a roof-top observation to see the turf being laid.

The under-construction Chester Bus Interchange at Gorse Stacks which features a grass roof.

Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment at CWaC, who joined the bus station guided walk, said: “I am pleased to see work progressing so quickly and look forward to the completion and welcoming the first bus passengers. The new bus interchange will provide the city with a modern public transport hub, including real time bus information, and will give bus users a more enjoyable travelling experience.

"Once opened it will free up the current Princess Street site for the future development of the Northgate Scheme giving Chester’s retail centre much needed new investment.”

CWaC says the loss of 168 short-stay spaces at Gorse Stacks is more than offset by the new Delamere Street car park which provides 351 spaces.

The under-construction Chester Bus Interchange at Gorse Stacks which features a grass roof.

However, the bus interchange is not to everyone’s liking.

Upton resident Michael Main described it as ‘a monstrosity’. One bus driver told The Chronicle it was ‘in the middle of nowhere’ compared with the existing bus station.

But Christine Gaskell, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “The LEP recognised the importance of relocating Chester’s bus interchange, not just for the huge improvements in connectivity it will generate, but for the vital role it will play in paving the way for the wider Northgate development, which is why we invested £13.5m through the Local Growth Fund to enable it to move forward.

“The Northgate development will be transformational for Chester city centre, creating more than 1,000 jobs, and is a hugely significant project for the growth of the local and wider Cheshire and Warrington economy.”

The under-construction Chester Bus Interchange at Gorse Stacks which features a grass roof.

Graeme Moffat, senior contract manager at Graham Construction, said: “The interchange will provide a much improved gateway for people entering Chester via public transport and will have a transformational impact on the way people access the city. It is a fantastic landmark that makes an instant impression when you arrive in the city and is something that everyone at Graham Construction is immensely proud to be involved with.

“Throughout the project we have sought to work with the local community by offering site visits and work placements for students at nearby schools and colleges, as well as engaging with residents who live nearby to keep them updated on the progress.”

As well as the bus interchange, the LEP is also funding public realm improvements to Frodsham Street and the surrounding area to improve connections to the city centre.

Work began on site in October 2015 and is due to be completed in early February 2017 before opening to the public in early March.

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