Council backs Chester Renaissance until 2014

Celebrate CheshireFunding has been approved to keep Chester Renaissance, the city centre regeneration company, going for a further two years, Steven Broomhead, chairman of the organisation told delegates at Celebrate Cheshire.

Cheshire West & Chester Council has provided 'capital and revenue' funding, at a reduced budget from previous years, to cover the salaries and commissioning work of the ten-strong team, led by chief executive Rita Waters. The new funding comes into place on 1 December and will run until the end of 2013.

Broomhead, former chief executive of the North West Development Agency, was appointed none-executive chairman of Chester Renaissance in May 2011.

Download Place's Celebrate Cheshire seminar presentations here

Speaking at the Place North West seminar on regeneration hotspots as part of Celebrate Cheshire at Chester Racecourse last Friday, Broomhead said: "Gone are the days when people in economic development companies write long strategic papers. Most people in regeneration are now engaged in delivery on the ground. That is where Chester Renaissance is right now, we will announce a new private-sector led board soon. I want us to be a can-do organisation."

Place North West's seminars were sponsored by Chester-based law firm Aaron & Partners, Envirolink Northwest and Pochin Developments.

Waters added: "The funding approval sends a great message out that where other places in the country are seeing economic development companies close Chester is not and we can continue our work forming partnerships and pushing forward our economic and development priorities."

Consultation closes at the end of this week into the One City Plan commissioned by Chester Renaissance and written by GVA. The 15-year development blueprint uses the findings of the Urban Land Institute's intensive survey of Chester residents and businesses carried out in November 2010.

Already moving forward are a proposed 500,000 sq ft office quarter around Chester train station, where Muse Developments has been appointed. There is also a bid in from Chester Renaissance for funding from the European Union's Portico programme to open up the Roman towers on the historic wall which are currently closed. There will be a review of car parking provision and park-and-ride services to ease congestion in the small city centre. However, arguably the biggest challenge is to revive the stalled Northgate retail project by ING Real Estate. The city has slipped down the Experian league of retail destinations from fifth to 35th in recent years.

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