The first phase of Cheshire West & Chester’s long-awaited mixed-use scheme will go before the council’s planning committee next week with the £60m project on course to open in 2021.
The £60m first phase of the wider project, which has Vinci attached as main contractor, is set to feature a new market, cinema, a multi-storey car park, and leisure. The tenants already signed up are Zizzi’s, Cosy Club, Tapas Revolution, and cinema operator Picturehouse.
Although hybrid planning permission was originally secured in 2016, the council has rejigged the proposals with an alteration to the existing consent along with a new planning application for a multi-storey car park.
These design changes follow a change in architect for the scheme with AHR replacing ACME in December last year, as revealed by Place North West.
The multi-storey car park has also been included following pressure from local businesses, which argued the original plan of relocating the existing Crowne Plaza hotel to the site would be akin to “burning money”. This multi-storey car park is set to include 788 spaces, and the design changes to the scheme have been largely well-received by local stakeholders.
Under the council’s timeline, enabling works will begin in October. Speaking to Place North West last year, council figures said the first phase was likely to complete in spring 2021.
In late October last year, the council signed off an additional £6m to deliver a revised planning application for this first phase. The funding will also go towards further feasibility studies, tenant negotiations, and enabling works.
The rejigged hybrid application, along with a fresh application for a multi-storey car park, will both go to Cheshire West & Chester’s planning committee next week with a recommendation to approve.
The professional team on Northgate includes Planit-IE; Curtins; Avison Young; Hoare Lea; Rivington Land; Gardiner & Theobald; Aecom; Vectos; WMC; Town Centre Parking; and Fraser Blair Associates.
The second phase of the scheme, which has outline consent, is likely to be brought forward in tandem with a development partner, rather than being developed by the council, according to CWAC chief executive Andrew Lewis.
House of Fraser was originally lined up as an anchor tenant for a 100,000 sq ft store as part of this second phase but pulled out last year.
As of January this year, professional fees on Northgate have stacked up to more than £12m, not including the £6m spend approved by the council in October last year. This includes consultants’ fees, archeology and site investigation, along with letting agents’ fees and PR costs.
According to Freedom of Information requests by Place, fees paid include £1.6m to Rivington Land; £308,000 to Fraser Blair; and nearly £1m in fees paid to a consultant team of Aecom, GVA, Strutt & Parker, and Gardiner & Theobald since 2016. Acme was paid £2.1m since its appointment in 2014, while consultant Chris Morland, who advised on the council’s CPO process for Northgate, was paid more than £611,000.