Cheshire West & Chester Council is seeking public feedback on a masterplan to refresh Ellesmere Port town centre, including the delivery of a new public service hub.
The council’s early plans for the town centre are focussed on the public service hub, set to include a customer service centre, housing, and council offices.
This is proposed to be built on the existing bus station, owned by the local authority and next to the Mercer Walk entrance of the Port Arcades shopping centre. The existing offices at Civic Way will also be demolished, while buses will be relocated along Civic Way.
A second phase will include accommodating two GP surgeries and community health services in the vacant TJ Hughes unit at 2-4 Mercer Walk; this option is currently being explored by the NHS.
The council estimates that the project will cost around £17.4m to build with construction work starting in late 2019 and continuing through to 2021. Last week, the council agreed to put forward £2.1m of funding towards the public sector hub, bringing its overall contribution to £9.1m. A planning application will be submitted early next year.
The council is also looking for secure £8m from the Local Growth Fund to support the project. The development of the hub would also open up surplus sites for redevelopment.
A consultation will be launched this month where the public will be invited to comment on initial plans for the public sector hub, as well as the proposed relocation of the town’s bus station.
Feedback will be sought for four key elements of the masterplan: the town’s daytime economy; improving its cultural offer and its evening economy; housing and communities in and around the town centre; and transport and environmental quality.
In a report to last week’s cabinet, Cheshire West & Chester’s director of places strategy Lisa Harris said Ellesmere Port’s declining retail offering was “exacerbated by the physical layout of the town” with “poor routing and dispersed car parking, and by ageing and inefficient public sector buildings which struggle to meet the needs of local residents”.
Future phases of the town centre regeneration could include around 600 homes.
The consultation period will run from 22 October to 30 November, and the masterplan would then be put forward for cabinet sign-off in January next year. Four public events are being planned which are:
- Trinity Methodist Church, 5 November between 10am and 2pm
- Indoor Market, 8 November between 10am and 2pm
- The Port Arcades, 15 November between 10am and 3pm
- Ellesmere Port Library, 15 November between 4pm and 7pm
The council is being supported by Allies & Morrison on the masterplan.