A review of the stalled ING Real Estate retail scheme in Chester city centre is going to be discussed behind closed doors by the local authority next week.
Council leaders at Cheshire West & Chester said they remain hopeful of 'driving forward the next stage of the Northgate Development Project.' On Wednesday 8 February the council executive will meet in private to discuss 'commercially-sensitive options' to progress with the long-awaited city centre regeneration scheme.
ING declined to comment on the commercial options beyond saying it remains committed to the scheme.
The original Northgate project included a lot of public giveaways such as library and bus station but was deemed unviable when the commercial property market collapsed in 2008.
In October 2010, a joint statement from ING and CWAC declared that revised financial and legal guidelines had been agreed and a revised planning application for 580,000 sq ft of retail and leisure would be submitted in autumn 2011, with construction starting in spring 2014. The planning application failed to materialise.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity at the Conservative council, said: "Northgate is absolutely essential to Chester's development as a quality retail and visitor centre.
"Yet despite a good working relationship with our partners, neither the former Chester City Council nor the current authority has been able to progress.
"Circumstances – frequently the financial climate – seem to have conspired against us. However, we have reached the point when major decisions have to be taken….. for the good of the city and future generations."
Manley added: "Nothing will be decided until members have carefully considered all the alternatives but the Council is committed to the scheme and able to play a more proactive role should that be required.
"Further delays can only threaten our chances of a successful regeneration in time to compete with our ambitious neighbours."