Council seeks views for One City Plan

Cheshire West & Chester Council is inviting 200 stakeholders to contribute to its strategic framework that aims to transform Chester into a world-class destination.

The council is working closely with the economic development agency for the city centre, Chester Renaissance, consultants GVA Grimley, architects RHWL and Donald Insall Associates, transport specialists AECOM and stakeholder engagement advisors PPS to produce the One City Plan.

Stakeholders are being invited to Chester racecourse on Thursday to meet, discuss, and contribute to the proposals.

Chester riversideIn October, the council, Chester Renaissance, and GVA Grimley started to work on the concept of the One City Plan.

The plan will be a framework for development for over the next 15 years which aims to drive and guide investment and prioritise projects and their delivery across the city.

Since work started, the council said the plan will also embrace some of the recommendations of a study taken by the Urban Land Institute in November.

Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: "Amongst the ULI's major conclusions was that we needed a comprehensive strategy to replace the many currently in place. This is exactly what the One City Plan will provide.

"It will take account of the ULI comments and projects envisaged by the Council and its partners – like the business and cathedral quarters and Chester's cultural offer.

"One thing that we all agree on is that we have a city of immense and unrealised potential. That state-of-affairs must change.

"By 2026, we want Chester to be an exceptional city using its unique and authentic qualities to provide for all its communities, through a plan owned and supported by its residents."

Chester was 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 arrived into Chester to examine aspects of Chester's potential for the future.

The project was 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.

The council said the ULI's study found Chester caught between over confidence in its appeal of formidable and fading assets and a form of "conservation paralysis".

The council said the One City Plan envisages that these assets will be secure and successful – with investment made in the Amphitheatre, city walls, Roman Gardens, Rows and Cathedral to maximise their economic potential and protecting them for future generations.

The experts from America and Europe also advocated that as a distinctive regional city, Chester should concentrate on remaining a strong business which, in turn, should support the positioning of Chester as a 'best in class', destination.

The One City Plan envisages the city centre as "a thriving business environment, with high quality office space, a conference facility and an internationally recognised brand that capitalises on attracting inward investment and competitive businesses to draw on a skilled local workforce.

Manley added: "The city centre retail offer will be comprehensive, with Northgate scheme encouraging footfall, spend and business investment into Chester and complementing the wider and unique city centre offer.

"Rows will be revitalised with its own Business Improvement District scheme, focusing on a specialist niche retail offer with space provided for local craftsmen and artists with the upper floors now hosing a high quality hotel and housing offer."

The council said consultation with Chester's communities and general public will also play a vital part in creating the vision, with an opportunity for the public to hear about the plan on Friday 18 March at 26 Bridge Street in Chester city centre from 10am to 6pm.

Members of the One City Plan team will be on hand with display material explaining the plans purposes, the draft Vision, priority projects and key ideas for the future of the city.

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