Grimleys to masterplan new Chester CBD

Michael Hunt

GVA Grimley has been commissioned by Cheshire West & Chester Council and Chester Renaissance to outline a vision for a new business district for the city around the train station.

The council said the Chester Rail Gateway has already been identified by the North West Development Agency as a strategic regional site.

A team of consultants are holding bi-weekly meetings and includes Gifford as transport and ecological consultants, Curtin Construction on building aspects, and Fraser Blair Associates as project managers. Major office occupiers in the area include HBOS, now part of Lloyds Banking Group.

It is expected that the study will be completed in the summer.

The next stage of detailed work will set out the commercial options for a new city centre business district that is aimed at securing jobs and creating new employment.

Simon Reynolds of GVA Grimley said: "Chester is a unique city with plenty of history but the idea is to move this attractive city forward into a commercial context.

"The broad area covers the station gateway and spreads westwards into the city and the aim of these commission meetings should lead towards a planning application being put together. The idea is for approximately half a million sq ft of new office space to be built in the area and we're working towards a ten to fifteen year masterplan."

A full consultation with the public and stakeholders will take place in the coming months as the options are developed.

Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, added: "The area provides a natural location for a commercial quarter simply because of its close proximity to Chester General Railway Station with its hourly links to London, Crewe and the rest of the country.

"Chester Business Park is fully developed – so we need to fulfil the city's commercial potential elsewhere and believe the area under review is ideal for that purpose."

Rita Waters, chief executive of Chester Renaissance, said: "The city is rightly famous for its historic features and has also established a reputation as a centre for finance and commercial services.

"We will continue to strengthen and grow our employment opportunities for the good of this city and the sub region to provide future employment opportunities for generations to come."

The business park, which MBNA Europe Bank occupy, is virtually fully occupied and Chester's supply of Grade A office space has fallen short compared to other surrounding cities.

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