It’s full steam ahead for Chester Northgate, following formal approval of plans for the first phase of development at Cheshire West and Chester Councils’ most recent planning committee meeting, last night.
Committee members gave their unanimous backing for the detailed designs, which include a new indoor market, public square, picturehouse cinema and arcade within the former Chester Library building.
The committee also approved the inclusion of a multi-storey car park as part of the initial phase of the development.
Work to build the new leisure destination, in the heart of the city centre, is on schedule to commence in January 2020.
The council promises that residents, office workers and visitors to Chester can look forward to having a choice of eateries, bars and cultural attractions when the flagship scheme is completed.
Chester Market, which has undergone its own renaissance over the past 12 months, will be relocated as part of the development to provide “a dynamic new environment for traders and visitors.”
The designs were submitted following extensive public consultation, with the views of Chester residents and local businesses helping shape the look and feel of the development.
“The addition of green living walls was a popular theme of the responses received and will help bring greenery into the city centre whilst also referencing the Cheshire countryside,” explained a council spokesperson.
“The quality of public realm and choice of modern materials will echo the character of historic Chester and enhance the city offer.
“The public square will provide an attractive social and gathering space to keep Northgate buzzing by day and night.
“There has already been great interest from community groups expressing an interest in using the space.”
Cllr Richard Beacham, cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth said: “Planning approval for the first phase of the Northgate development is a welcome milestone in a long and complex journey towards building a brand new leisure destination in the heart of Chester.”
Cllr Beacham continued: “This is long-awaited and much needed investment in this part of our city centre and it will have a positive impact for residents, local businesses and the local economy.”
Cllr Stuart Parker, shadow cabinet member for communities and wellbeing added: “This project is one of the largest investments in the city centre and will help create a dynamic, modern city that is fit for the future whilst preserving all that is cherished from the past.
“Chester is a very special place and we have the unique opportunity to enhance its richness with new facilities and attractions inside the city walls.”
The next stage will be the formal appointment of the building contractor – with Vinci already selected as the preferred contractor as part of a detailed selection process earlier in the year.
Cheshire West and Chester Council will share more detailed information on the programme of works – expected to begin January 2020 – once the detailed planning and design work is undertaken with the contractor.