Hotel included in reworked Northgate masterplan

An enhanced masterplan for Chester’s £300m Northgate development, to include a new hotel as a replacement to the Crowne Plaza, is set to be considered by Cheshire West & Chester Council’s cabinet next week.

The updated proposals would free up the site of the existing hotel and Trinity Street car park for the anchor department store, formerly earmarked for a site at the rear of the hotel, offering it a more prominent location near to St Martin’s Way.

A replacement 168-bedroom hotel with spa and conference facilities, a rooftop restaurant and public car park would be built on the existing park between Princess Street and Hunter Street.

The new plans follow a review by the council’s development manager Rivington Land to ensure that the masterplan, which was developed in 2012, reflected current retail market requirements and demands.

According to a report ahead of the cabinet meeting, relocating the Crowne Plaza during the first phase of the Northgate development would “create a stronger and more legible retail circuit with additional prime frontage”.

A reduction in the number of planned retail units is proposed, but with an increase in average size to reflect retailer demand.

The report recommends that members support the enhanced masterplan, described as “a superior overall regeneration scheme”, as the basis for bringing forward a planning application in early 2016.

The enhanced masterplan includes a proposal to accelerate a detailed planning application for the space vacated when Chester Library moves into the new cultural centre in November 2016.

The converted and extended former library building would be home to restaurants and bars to complement the neighbouring £37m theatre, cinema and library development.

Residential accommodation also features in the revised proposals, with 40 apartments included as an integral part of the scheme.

The enhanced masterplan also provide four bus stands accessed directly off St Martin’s Way.

Rivington Land was appointed by the Council in July 2014 to steer the Northgate scheme through the planning and development process.

It has reviewed the masterplan alongside scheme architect ACME and leasing agent JLL. who provided market-based feedback from major retailers and restaurant operators about their preferred store sizes and layouts.

The Northgate masterplan outlines the creation of a retail and leisure quarter, anchored by a department store, a market hall, multi-screen cinema and multi-storey car park for 900 cars.

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The new design of the Department Store looks a bit too much like a copy of the Paco Rabanne-inspired exterior of the Selfridges store at the Bullring in Birmingham. We need some iconic architecture but something a bit more individual rather than a pastiche of a pastiche.

By Nigel Bruce

Chester needs a design in materials and lines that refelect and complement its heritage. Chester is not an ‘iconic’ place, whatever that is supposed to mean. The Statue of Liberty is iconic as are the Eiffel Tower and Liver Buildings. Chester is a very solid, historic place with two thousand years of history, and that is what is most important about Chester and should be respected. Modern design is perfectly capable of doing that. Germany does it very well. The Museum of Stuttgart for example is light and modern with spectacular rooftop viewing areas, yet it is solid with sound lines that sit very well next some of its fabulous neo-classical buildings and the Schloss.
Chester bares no comparison with Birmingham’s bullring. A design that looks anything like that will sit very poorly within the streetscene.

By Paul Blackburn

15 years waiting and we get a K’NEX toy store, modelled on the Bullring, clad in bubble wrap. We can do better. Chester’s existing architecture is ‘iconic’ and unique, this new design should compliment it not contrast badly so we look like any other Euro-pop city.

By Jane Harrad-Roberts

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