Everyone is invited to learn more about ambitions to pedestrianise Northgate Street at presentations taking place in Chester city centre tomorrow (Wednesday, September 6).
Rod Cox, chairman of Northgate Quarter Association, wants to seize opportunities presented by the £300m Northgate Development and £37m Storyhouse cultural centre.
He foresees a traffic-free Northgate Street where tables and chairs can be placed outside in a ‘Bohemian quarter’ with lots of independent businesses based around arts, food, the evening economy and entertainment
But the businessman, who co-owns Rufus Court, fears the direction of travel could see the street turned into a mere service road for the market and theatre unless people stand up and be counted.
That’s why his group is addressing ‘Why Northgate Street needs pedestrianising and how it can be done’ in presentations taking place upstairs in Chez Jules restaurant at 3.30pm and again at 5.45pm on Wednesday. This follows previous sessions held in July.
Mr Cox wrote: “The USP, or unique selling point, is Chester’s heritage. In other words, historic streets, not modern shopping streets are Chester’s attraction; but they need upgrading before they lose it. And if they do lose it, all Chester will suffer. The new shopping development needs these historic streets to bring visitors more than anyone else.
“Whereas building the new shopping development (NSD) will cost £300m, the Northgate Quarter proposals will cost the city maybe £50,000 in modifications – less than 0.02% of the NSD - if, indeed, they cost anything at all. Why the council are so determined to allow the NSD to dump all the service lorries, taxis and buses onto Town Hall Square, after just paying £13m to remove them, and when there is a cheap and easy alternative, is beyond me.”
Among his ideas are:
■ Reverse traffic on Hunter Street so taxis and vehicles servicing the Northgate Development and theatre can enter from the ring road and leave the same way
■ Pedestrianise Northgate Street with deliveries allowed until midday and ‘essential traffic only’ allowed through a barrier system
■ Extend Northgate Development service road from ring road to Town Hall Square, permitting vehicles to access St Werburgh Street and Eastgate area, creating a traffic-free area under Eastgate Clock