ING agrees Northgate exit with CWAC

ING Real Estate has agreed to sell its holdings in the retail development area in Chester city centre to the council.

The deal was confirmed by the council and the property investor in a joint statement on Friday. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed beyond stating it was a "multi-million pound deal".

CWAC acquired The Forum shopping centre; the grassed and landscaped area bounded by St Martin's Way, Hunters Walk and Princess Street; land and paved area east and south east of Goldsmith House and Hamilton Place; Kirkton House, Hunter Street and land to the west side and rear of Hunter Street. The council now controls 85% of the land needed to proceed with its own attempt at delivering the Northgate scheme.

Council leader Cllr Mike Jones: "This is a truly momentous moment for Chester. Negotiations have been in progress for some time and I am delighted that we have reached a positive agreement with ING Real Estate Development UK. In September, the experts told us very clearly that Chester must develop or [it will] decline. This announcement reflects our determination to ensure our city enjoys a prosperous future as an iconic retail, culture and heritage centre."

Added the leader: "These are indeed exciting times for Chester with preliminary work on the theatre site already under way."

A spokesman for ING Real Estate Development UK said: "We are confident that this sale will help to secure a vibrant and exciting centre for residents of Chester and visitors alike. Having Cheshire West & Chester Council invest directly in the Northgate development is a strong vote of confidence in the long-term vision for this historic centre."

The £300m Northgate scheme proposed by the council would contain 375,240 sq ft of retail, including an anchor department store, 51 standard-sized shops, two kiosks and five major store units; a small food store of 6,555 sq ft and 79,233 sq ft of food and beverage units.
Parking is proposed both underground and in a multi-storey car park. The total number of spaces is 954, which include replacement, new and upgraded parking spaces.

A new bus facility is proposed at Gorse Stacks within the transport strategy, subject to public consultation, and direct public transport access into the site with three bus lay-bys for dropping off/picking up adjacent to a new market hall.

In February 2012 the council ended its agreement with ING after 10 years of planning the scheme with no brick laid.

The council is currently procuring a design and development team with the aim of submitting a planning application in 2015 and completing the scheme in 2019.

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