CWAC adds 50 homes to £300m Northgate

Cheshire West & Chester Council has upped the number of residential units at the £300m Northgate development from 70 to 120 as it prepares to discuss its progress so far at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The council said it had increased the number of homes following recommendations from Savills, which has been advising CWAC on the scheme.

In a report to the council’s cabinet, due to be discussed on 11 October, Savills recommended that “the current and anticipated level of demand” justified an increase in the number of units at Northgate.

The design team for the project, which includes Aecom, ACME as architect and Gardiner & Theobald as project manager, is now working on updated proposals for the scheme.

The council-backed scheme covers 400,000 sq ft and will now include 120 homes, a six-screen Picturehouse cinema, a 167-bedroom hotel, a House of Fraser department store, shops, cafes, and restaurants.

House of Fraser was announced as an anchor tenant for the 100,000 sq ft department store in February this year, with Crowne Plaza signed up as the potential occupier for the hotel.

The council also revealed it would be setting aside a total of £13.2m to complete the CPO process to make way for the project. This includes £6m of funding in 2017-18, and £3.6m in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

CWAC started the CPO process for the scheme in July, with the council seeking powers to acquire 70 city centre properties to push the scheme forward. These buildings sit in and around Hunter Street, St Martins Way, Watergate Street and Northgate Street.

The council already owns around 85% of the Northgate site.

The report to the cabinet warned “the likelihood of overspend is relatively high” for the project given the number of benchmarks the council has set for itself, which include the CPO, land negotiations, and pre-letting for the retail and restaurant units.

So far, the development stage of the project – including design and some enabling works – has cost £21.7m.

The council added that it was making progress on the appointment of a construction partner for the first phase of the scheme, which went out to tender in August 2017.

CWAC has now received initial responses from interested parties, with a shortlisting process following soon. A winning contractor is expected to be named early next year.

Strutt & Parker is advising the council on a funder for the scheme, which is yet to be secured.

The professional team for the Northgate development also includes DLA Piper, GVA, JLL, and Rivington Land.

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