Chester Northgate Planning Application June 2019 3
The first phase of Chester Northgate was unanimously approved

Chester Northgate and Ellesmere Port hub approved

Charlie Schouten

Cheshire West & Chester Council has progressed two key projects by approving the first phase of its £60m mixed-use scheme in Chester, and the £16m public service centre and bus hub in Ellesmere Port.

Both schemes secured unanimous backing from the council’s planning committee, meaning work can start in the coming months. The projects have a combined value of more than £75m.

The £60m first phase of Chester Northgate, 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.

Under the council’s timeline, enabling works will begin in October with Vinci starting in earnest in January 2020.

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.

Cllr Richard Beacham, Cheshire West & Chester’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth said: “Planning approval for the first phase of the Northgate development is a welcome milestone in a long and complex journey towards building a brand-new leisure destination in the heart of Chester.

“This is long-awaited and much needed investment in this part of our city centre and it will have a positive impact for residents, local businesses and the local economy with the creation of new jobs and new work for local suppliers.”

Ellesmere Port Civic Hub 1

Ellesmere Port’s public service hub, which is also due to be built by Vinci, is also on course to start after winning unanimous backing at the same committee.

Under the proposals, pictured above, Cheshire West & Chester council’s offices on Civic Way and the existing bus station will be knocked down. The new public service hub will be built on the latter site, next to the Mercer Walk entrance of the Port Arcades shopping centre.

Council staff are set to relocate from the Civic Way offices to the new service hub once it completes; the Civic Way offices site will then be developed for housing; the council said demolishing the existing offices was “the most cost effective solution” given the “higher cost” of refurbishing the buildings.

Buses are set to be rerouted to a new interchange along Civic Way under the plans.

The 52,000 sq ft public service hub reaches three storeys and will provide 530 desk spaces in a customer service centre, Job Centre Plus, and offices split between the council and the Department for Work & Pensions.

Half of the scheme’s £16m cost is being met by the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, through Growth Fund money, with the remainder provided by the council. Pick Everard is the architect while Avison Young is planning consultant.

Cllr Beacham added: “The aim of this application is to provide local people with easy access to essential public services.

“Work is scheduled to start in January, with a completion date in 2021. This will be a modern and energy efficient building which will bring together a wide range of important public services including; community safety and crime prevention, housing support, employment, skills and learning guidance, welfare and benefits support, and health and wellbeing.”

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