Chester Northgate Aerial

MIPIM | Chester sets Northgate timeline

Neil Tague in Cannes

Cheshire West & Chester Council and Rivington Land have ramped up their attempts to secure funding for the £300m Northgate project, declaring that they intend for phase one of Northgate to be complete by the end of 2020, and phase two in 2022.

A  public inquiry into the use of CPO powers for the project was completed in February, with the development team, advised by GVA, confident they will receive a favourable verdict in the summer. The council owns around 85% of the land required.

Graham Pink, director of place commissioning at CWAC, told Place North West: “We’re here at MIPIM to raise awareness in the funding market. We’ve now got Northgate to the stage where it has been largely de-risked, with planning, site assembly and CPO taken care of – we’re confident that will go our way.

“Now we have to engage fully with the funding and investment market. It’s always been the strategy to get a package where we can deliver quality, and by taking the scheme this far, we’ve kept control of it.

“The encouraging thing is that funders seem to ‘get it’ – they appreciate the importance of the city’s history, the affluence of the county and sub-region. Now is the time to have those conversations.”

The scheme is long awaited, dating back a dozen years, but has picked up pace since the award of a new planning consent in September 2016. Early last year, House of Fraser signed as retail anchor and Crowne Plaza agreed terms on a new conferencing hotel.

Northgate includes 45 further shops, 12 restaurants, a Picturehouse cinema, 120 apartments, 1,000 parking spaces and 25,000 sq ft of offices. Some retail deals have been announced, with others in solicitors’ hands.

David Lewis, chief executive of Rivington, spoke with Pink on the Cheshire & Warrington stand. He described Northgate as “the most significant mixed-use scheme in the UK”.

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House of Fraser as retail anchor. Really? Mr Pink is surely not serious. But then, Cheshire West and Chester Council has got the dud Northwich Barons Quay development on its hands so anything is possible.

By R Weaver

Sorry, in fairness I should have mentioned that the anchor tenant in Barons Quay is Asda. Poor thing. It doesn’t have a chance.

By R Weaver