Cheshire West & Chester Council is to push forward with plans for a £29m regeneration of Ellesmere Port’s town centre, focussed on a public service hub which includes a customer service centre, library, two GP surgeries and a community café.
The council is proposing to build the facility on the Civic Way car park, owned by the local authority and fronting the Civic Square, opposite the Port Arcades shopping centre.
Alongside the existing library, which will be retained as part of the plans, the new hub is to include a customer service centre, GP surgeries, a pharmacy, job centre, register office, back-office functions for the council, and a community café.
The council estimates the entire scheme will cost £28.9m; including capital costs for construction, fit-out, professional fees, inflation, and construction risk. This includes a “light-touch” refurbishment of the existing library.
CWAC has already provisionally secured £8.3m from the Local Growth Fund to back the project, alongside a £7m commitment from the council’s capital programme. This leaves a £13.6m funding shortfall to get the scheme off the ground, which will be met either through private sector contributions or through capital borrowing.
The council said a funding model was “nearing completion”, with options including sub-letting parts of the building to private partners to support the scheme.
The procurement for a design-and-build contractor has not yet started but is expected to be issued via OJEU following cabinet sign-off.
CWAC’s cabinet is expected to sign off a further £700,000 of funding at a cabinet meeting next week, and will also agree a design and development brief for the site.
The council has been working with Perfect Circle, a joint venture of consultants Pick Everard, Gleeds, and Aecom, on the scheme’s viability.
CWAC said the latest iteration of the project, which has been in the offing since 2010, was a “more affordable and deliverable proposal” than previous options, which had previously included the integration of police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services at the site.
The consultation process has not yet begun but CWAC hopes to outline its plans to stakeholders and the public later in the year.