Rita Waters

Chester to get One City Plan for growth

Cheshire breakfast seriesChester Renaissance, the economic development agency for the city centre, is working with consultants GVA Grimley to produce a single vision for development to counter confusion caused by the current 51 blueprints live within the council.

Rita Waters, chief executive of Chester Renaissance, said the One City Plan will be a 10-15 year strategic development framework to drive and guide investment and prioritise projects and their delivery across the city.

Speaking to more than 100 attendees at the Place North West Chester Development Update, sponsored by Pochin, DTM Legal, Cheshire West & Chester Council, Marketing Projects and Places Matter!, Waters said potential funders want one vision to drive and guide investment decisions.

The plan will set a project delivery timetable, overall vision and guide development on the place, product and ambition of the city.

Consultation on the plan has started and will last through to December. Chester Renaissance is also inviting business people to meet a panel of international experts from the Urban Land Institute when they visit Chester in November.

Chester will be the first UK city to 'go under the microscope' of the respected cities think tank when a ten-strong panel of experts from America and Europe fly into Chester to examine aspects of Chester's potential for the future.

The project is being backed by a consortium of public and private sector stakeholders led by The Grosvenor Estate, Cheshire West & Chester Council, Chester Renaissance, NWDA, Bank of America, University of Chester and Chester Race Company. Register to take part in the panel discussions with ULI here.

ULI's experts recently advised on the European Quarter, Brussels; recovery of the disaster-hit New Orleans; Shanghai's investment potential and London's Olympic Park Legacy.

Waters said the future of retail in the city remained a priority but the current stock of stores was showing remarkable resilience with footfall up and shop vacancy rates below the national average.

Also speaking at the event were Henry Owen-John, regional director of English Heritage, on heritage matters in the city and Cllr Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, who gave an update on the council's regeneration initiatives. Jones said the latest Northgate agreement was developer ING Real Estate's "last chance" to deliver the long-awaited retail project and a revised planning application was due by September 2011.

Chester Development Update delegatesJones explained that Land Securities, a potential joint venture partner of ING, walked away as it didn't stack up for them. The revised plans being drawn up had taken out the theatre and bus station and discussion between ING and council planners was ongoing about the position of the market and library.

The next in the series of Cheshire west development update breakfasts takes place on 11 November in Bolesworth Estate, Tattenthall. Email dunstan@placenorthwest.co.uk to register.

Images by Marketing Projects

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