THIS is the new vision for Chester’s Northgate Quarter which aims to bring a department store, bars, restaurants and a multiplex cinema in the heart of the city - The Chronicle can reveal.
Cheshire West and Chester Council will next week agree the blue-print should go out to consultation.
Designed by commercial advisers, the council says its masterplan will revitalise Chester by attracting an extra £143m a year spending power and creating 1,600 permanent jobs.
No details about time-scale or interest from developers have been revealed.
A range of new retail units, including an anchor store
New bars, restaurants and cafes
Multi-screen cinema next to the planned new theatre/library
A replacement market fronting Northgate Street
Car parking for 1,000 spaces with a new 500-plus space multi-storey and revamped 450-space underground car parking
Key to the scheme’s ambience are ‘courtyard’ open spaces and a re-design of Town Hall Square with an artist’s impression showing fountains emerging from the ground.
There will be a return to the former street pattern of the Northgate area plus improved connections with the rest of the city including the demolition of 14/20 Watergate Street (formerly Tessuti) to create a new link which should help the ‘struggling rows’. Main vehicular access would be off St Martin’s Way using the current junction.
The new masterplan was drawn up after CWaC’s decision to terminate a 12-year partnership with ING – originally struck with Chester City Council – concluding there was little chance of progress.
However ING owns much of the land involved in this project and the council will have to consider a number of options open to them before the masterplan is delivered.
Unlike the original scheme, the new project does not feature a bus station, which could be relocated to Gorse Stacks and has a smaller foot-print because it does not include properties in Hunter Street.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for regeneration, said: “In January the council made a clear commitment to Northgate as the key to the future of Chester and we are determined to move forward with the scheme.
“I believe our masterplan has the potential to provide a major boost to the regeneration of Chester and to establishing the city as national and regional leisure and visitor destination.”
Next Wednesday, executive members will consider the result of the council’s pledge to produce its own master plan to safeguard the city’s future.
If accepted, it will form the basis of an eight-week programme of consultation and public engagement, starting on November 19, with a report back to executive early next year.
Councillor Manley added: “I hope that as many business and stakeholders engage in the consultation and feed back their comments to us.
We will be talking to all land owners within the area as part of the public engagement process.”
Labour councillor Samantha Dixon, a member of a cross-party working group looking at Northgate, said: “I welcome a balanced political group working towards a viable solution to one of the most important aspects of Chester’s future sustainability.
“I look forward to hearing the views of residents and business people on the new proposals.”
The new concept has been produced by a top design team supported by a member working group drawn equally from both major political parties and chaired by deputy council leader Cllr Les Ford.
The design team comprises: ACME, scheme architects; Davis Langdon, cost consultants; WSP, covering transport, archaeology and structures; and DTZ providing commercial support.
Executive members will consider a joint report by Charlie Seward and Julie Gill, directors of regeneration and culture and resources which highlights the scheme as ‘critical’ to the future of the economic success of Chester – “a city competing in an increasingly competitive and polarised retail environment.”