Progress on development across the city has prompted an upbeat message from Renaissance chairman Prof Steve Broomhead. DAVID NORBURY reports
PERHAPS it is the slightly warmer weather but Prof Steve Broomhead certainly seems to have a spring in his step as he reports on what he describes as ‘a busy few months again for Chester Renaissance’.
Renaissance, he says, has worked with key developers on successful planning applications for the Shot Tower, Waitrose and the commercial business quarter all on the outskirts of the city centre and three key projects in Chester’s regeneration.
“The journey for developments of this scale to reach a successful planning outcome is often a long one,” explains Prof Broomhead.
“It involves many different teams including planners, funders, architects, archaeologists, political representatives as well as businesses and residents.
“Chester Renaissance works with all of them to ensure views are represented, projects are realistic, funding is in place and statutory consultees are satisfied with the overall plans for development.
“In short, when a Chester Renaissance project commences, a whole team of people internally and externally are brought together to work as one.
“It also sees the strategic board of Chester Renaissance working across the city, giving their time freely to support the Chester Renaissance team and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“It is the work of all I have mentioned that has helped us to produce successes we are proud to have led or been associated with.”
Also on his list are the amphitheatre refurbishment works including landscaping, the mural, interpretation panels and landscape improvements along with identifying and currently working with a potential developer for listed Dee House nearby to deliver a world class visitor attraction.
Multi-million pound award winning public realm improvements include the Groves and city centre locations while Renaissance project managed the multi-million pound railway station refurbishment on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council, working with a host of partners and stakeholders including Network Rail, Arriva Trains Wales, Railway Heritage Trust, Merseyrail, English Heritage and others.
It secured multi-million pound European ‘Portico’ funding to refurbish the city walls and towers using ‘lightweight interventions’ and to install interpretation across the landmark feature.
An award-winning architectural lighting scheme has been delivered across the city with some places being lit for the very first time including the Eastgate bridge underside and Newgate bridge.
The ‘We Love Chester’ campaign, designed and managed by Chester Renaissance, brought volunteers together working across the city to engender civic pride while Renaissance produced the One City Plan offering a single strategic vision setting out the aspirations of the city for the next 15 years.
“It is important to reflect on these achievements as all too often negative headlines in their quest to destroy all that is good can overlook what has actually been achieved and the difference the achievements can make,” insists Prof Broomhead.
“But we are not complacent at Chester Renaissance, we all recognise we have much still to achieve.
“The work of Chester Renaissance and its partners is creating a legacy to be passed on.”
Apparently undeterred by a Labour move to scrap the organisation at the borough council’s annual budget meeting, Prof Broomhead insists the next few years will see Renaissance continuing to work with the private sector to drive the Central Business Quarter, identify inward investment opportunities and work with new employers to bring them into the city.
“We will also be working with the Canal and Rivers Trust in developing and improving the canal corridor into the city centre.
“We will be working on improving the trading environment in the city centre by supporting the implementation of a business improvement district and the creation of a new private sector led business improvement district board.
“Another key area we will be working on is the Rows in the heart of the city centre, a major asset for this city which could be in a better state of repair and use.”
Prof Broomhead adds: “Many of the projects previously mentioned will move into the next phase over the coming months – ie from master planning to delivery mode – and new projects will emerge.
“Chester Renaissance's doors are always open to anyone who wishes to know more about our work, and I would encourage everyone to become more involved as we continue our work over the coming years.”