Cheshire West & Chester Council has secured Government approval for the site assembly and proposed changes to street layout it requires for the retail and leisure-led Northgate development.
The council is currently reviewing the options for later stages of the scheme to reflect recent fundamental changes in the business environment for retail, and increase the relative importance within the site for good quality housing, leisure and cultural attractions, and high quality public realm.
The review comes in response to a move that follows local property figures, headed by Glenbrook’s Guy Butler and Tim Kenney of kenneymoore, issuing an open letter highlighting concerns about the viability of a retail-dominated project that has been in the works for more than a decade.
Ministers also advised that the planned relocation of the market can proceed. The developments this week mean that the mixed-use project, which was subject to a full public inquiry, can continue to progress and a report will be considered by council in October to take the scheme forward.
In further positive news for retail in the borough, CWAC told Place North West at the REVO retail conference that letting action at the heavily-criticised Barons Quay in Northwich has picked up, with Patisserie Valeie taking 2,100 sq ft, two further units under offer and “strong interest” in leisure units.
The Northgate development will include a relocated modern market, six-screen cinema, restaurants, a public square and car parking.
In the coming weeks and months design work and further consultation with a wide range of stakeholders to meet the long term aspirations of the city will continue, CWAC said..
Work will also continue to attract tenants for the scheme in addition to those already secured including Picturehouse, Tapas Revolution, Zizzi’s and Cosy Club, and with the landowners affected by the CPO outcome.
Cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure, Cllr Brian Clarke, said: “Today’s news is fantastic and testament to the hard work of the Northgate team in successfully reaching this important milestone.
“Our aim is to deliver a mixed use scheme that’s appropriate for the next generation rather than having to build something that’s a legacy of the last 10 years’ thinking. The positive decision shows a clear endorsement of the scheme by the planning inspector and the Secretaries of State who confirmed the order and applications.
“Northgate should not be seen in isolation. Its impact on Chester will be to support the whole of the city centre by improving our offer and encouraging more visitors. There will be significant consultation in the months to come which will allow the community and stakeholders the opportunity to shape the future of this part of the city.
“Having secured these orders we are now in a much stronger position to approach investors and potential development partners.”
CWAC’s cabinet is to receive a report in October detailing the next steps proposed by the Northgate team.