Chester council / ING to present new Northgate plan

Rachael Tinniswood

A rescue plan to save the £400m Northgate Development will be unveiled at a meeting of Chester City Council's executive team at the end of March.

The development has been besieged by problems caused by the global credit pushing up the cost of the overall project, and last December the scheme was put on hold.

Since then the council and ING have been working together to find a way to reduce the cost of the project while creating new opportunities to generate extra income.

Now a list of 20-plus options have been narrowed down to six and council officials hope that if a decision can be made following the March 26 meeting, construction work can start this summer.

Detailed planning permission for the project, which was designed by architects Michael Hopkins and Chapman Taylor, was granted by The Government Office for the North West in March 2003.

Redeveloping the Northgate area within the city walls, the Northgate Development was to provide 400,000 sq ft of leisure and retail facilities, including a new performing arts centre, library, market hall, public transport interchange, several civic squares, as well as new residential apartments. The scheme would replace the existing Forum shopping centre and Gateway Theatre, and move the library and market hall.

But rising costs of building the scheme put an increasing strain on ING, which eventually revealed there would be a delay in completing the long-awaited project.

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