Chester Northgate Planning Application June 2019 4
The project will cost around £70m to build

Chester’s Northgate scheme under review

Dan Whelan

The meandering saga of the £70m mixed-use project has taken another turn with Cheshire West & Chester Council’s cabinet asked to agree to a “revised financing arrangement” in light of the pandemic. 

The cabinet is also reviewing other town centre regeneration projects, including in Winsford, which will seek a revised funding package from the Government’s High Street Fund, as well as in Ellesmere Port and Northwich.

Details of the cabinet meeting, which is due to take place next week, are confidential but a spokesperson for the council said discussions over Northgate were “not about the viability of the project going forward”. 

Discussions are expected to centre around what Covid-19 could mean with regards to a number of issues including construction contracts and maintaining the safety of the site. 

The spokesperson added that preparatory work, being carried out by Vinci, was ongoing and had not stopped as a result of the ongoing health crisis.

The cost of the project was initially anticipated to be £60m but a revised estimate saw that increase by just under £10m, with the council saying it would need to divert funds from elsewhere within the budget to fund the development. 

Chester Northgate Planning Application June 2019 3

The regeneration of Chester city centre has been more than two decades in the making with numerous iterations of various schemes. 

A hybrid planning permission for the current proposal was secured back in 2016 but the project has undergone a series of amendments over the last four years. This followed a change in architect and pressure from local businesses who demanded that the council rethink the proposals. 

The group said the council’s original plan of relocating the existing Crowne Plaza hotel to the site would be akin to “burning money” and the move was subsequently dropped. 

The switch from ACME to AHR as architect came in December 2018. Approval for tweaked plans, including a 788-space car park believed to be the cause of the £10m increase in costs, came last September. 

Northgate is set to feature a new market, cinema, a multi-storey car park. The tenants already signed up are Zizzi’s, Cosy Club, Tapas Revolution, and cinema operator Picturehouse. 

Vinci is the main contractor and the project team also includes Planit-IE; Curtins; Avison Young; Hoare Lea; Rivington Land; Gardiner & Theobald; AecomVectos; WMC; Town Centre Parking; and Fraser Blair Associates. 

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‘Meandering saga’ – beautifully put.

By Sceptical

How much public money has gone down the drain over at least two decades getting nowhere with this? It’s just a catalogue of failure and incompetence. Shameful

By George

This is what happens when a council doesn’t have a developer on board. Developers may wear pinstripe suites and a rolex but it’s a small price to pay compared to a £10m overspend, a farcical delay and project that’s not even started, when will they learn!

By Clare Piper

Just make it one huge carpark ! That would make Chester one of the most desirable places to open a buisiness in the UK. We have enough shops / cafes etc as it is.

By jantokoz

Just keeps on giving.

By tbc

MInd-boggling that any council can continue with unsustainable regeneration projects.

Who is advising them? What is their strategy? Is it any surprise that the government are cutting the funding to LAs?

Seriously, the only thing to invest in is sustainable behaviour change. We’ve been told, time and again, that we have 10 years to reverse climate change.

Time to oust these old-fashioned-business-as-usual thinkers and do-ers.
#Bonkers

By Mike Riddell

In Pamplona, Northern Spain, an ancient city with an extensive, heavily visited and shopped, pedestrian centre, they built a huge underground carpark under the main square of the city. I believe it can hold 3,000 cars. The city continues to thrive, shops are full with few empty and pedestrians and vehicles are well separated, Would the cost of a similar parking scheme be more than is being spent on Northgate, I doubt it, would it attract additional visitors to Chester, I am certain. Will the council consider this idea? Answer below?

By Acerview

Shameful + disgusting, waste of public money,
It will never take off, the people of Chester don’t want it and they have been let down year on year by successive incompetent, so called professionals who play at working for the Council who have run down this CITY OF CULTURE and turned it into a ghost town, with cheap budget shops which close down allowing beggars +tramps to take over.

By A. LINGARD

If you look at what happened in Oxford after the completion of its massively expanded Westgate center a couple of years ago you’ll see that it devastated trade on its traditional shopping streets and old covered market. This was all very predictable and the Northgate project if ever completed will have the same effect on Chesters shopping streets, which are already struggling.

By Will

20 years of advisors advising that more advice is required.
It gets better, the advisors masquerading as Council employees getting paid the big bucks for managing failed scheme after failed scheme. Making careers out of it. Here’s a clue, the advisors wont advise that no more advice is required. Just absolutely unbelievable.
Quite simply, there is no business case, give it up!
Catastrophic stubbornness.

By Needs an Enquiry