Public areas to be improved near Chester HQ

Michael Hunt

An investment of £606,000 has been put towards improving two public areas in Chester city centre by the North West Development Agency.

Public areas into Chester, surrounding the new £80m Cheshire West & Chester Council headquarters development will be transformed.

Cheshire West & Chester have taken the entire 82,000 sq ft office element of the new mixed-use building that was recently completed on the site of the former police headquarters and overlooking The Roodee racecourse.

The mixed-use scheme also features a four-star 80-bed Abode hotel, 34 apartments, and fine dining including a Michelin-starred Michael Caines restaurant built around a large central courtyard.

Funding has also been granted for improvement works along the riverside to create a pedestrian link between the Old Dee Bridge and the Groves.

Mark Hughes, executive director of economic development at the NWDA, said: "Works around the new HQ development are at a key gateway into the city and will boost investor confidence, building the momentum to further establish Chester as an international business destination.

"Along the riverside the new link will radically improve access around the centre which is not only excellent news for residents but will increase footfall around the city bringing new life and revenue to businesses, particularly those in tourism."

The developer of HQ, Liberty Properties, is carrying out improvement works to public areas surrounding the new build but some areas will remain untouched.

In order to complete the look, the NWDA investment will fund new stone footpaths and landscaping for these remaining areas.

Liberty Properties has contributed to improvements to the main adjoining Grosvenor roundabout and the provision of a bus lay-by. They are also providing a series of public seating areas including the central piazza area.

In January 2008 the NWDA granted investment of £931,000 for improvements to four public areas which included landscaping, kerbing, and railings along the riverside promenade. The improvements at Handbridge to the Groves will complement this.

The bollards at the Groves end will be moved up to the Groves riverside walkway. This will extend the prohibition area for vehicles and is hoped to create a more pedestrian friendly area.

The Groves link is the final section of works to create a riverside promenade from the Old Port to the Groves. This route links with tourist destinations such as the racecourse, the city walls, the River Dee and the Castle.

Rita Waters, chief executive of Chester Renaissance, added: "These works are all part of the Chester Renaissance programme, which aims to conserve and enhance the city's historical assets and attract both private sector investment and visitors. I am delighted that NWDA has been able to provide this level of investment to Chester."

The need for public realm improvements was identified as part of the NWDA-funded Chester Renaissance – Culture Park Programme Impact Assessment scheme.

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