ING blames credit crunch for Northgate freeze

In a further sign of the faltering commercial property market the long-awaited Northgate development by ING Real Estate in Chester has officially been put on hold.

ING acquired the Forum Shopping Centre in 2001 and obtained planning consent for the 400,000 sq ft revamp including a new market and performing arts in centre 2002. To date no work has started on site.

Following demands for information from angry local residents, Chester City Council issued a statement which said: "It was anticipated that the Northgate Development would get the go ahead, or go "unconditional ", at the end of November.

"However, due to the complexities of the scheme and current market conditions unconditionality has had to be delayed. The volatility of the international money markets and the rising costs of construction mean the timings of the scheme are being reviewed.

"The city council and ING remain committed to the scheme and are working closely together to seek to resolve the issues and realise the Northgate Development. The situation will be re-assessed at the end of March 2008."

The scheme was originally due to be anchored by House of Fraser but that deal is now also in doubt, according to local agents.

No-one at ING was immediately available for comment.

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