Location: City centre Development Manager: Rivington Land Total site area: 14.3 acres/5.8 hectares Planning status: Application submitted Timescale: Anticipated completion in 2021
The numerous attractions that Chester offers to investors will undoubtedly be enhanced by Chester Northgate – Cheshire West and Chester Council’s £300 million plan to expand and invigorate the city centre’s overall shopping and leisure offer. The council has already taken major steps to facilitate this scheme by relocating the bus station and developing the cultural centre, ‘Storyhouse’. The opening of Chester Northgate’s first phase will be in 2019, with the second following in 2020/21.
The scheme will see the redevelopment of a significant proportion of Chester’s city centre, and to deliver it the Council has appointed an experienced development team led by Rivington Land. A planning application for a genuinely mixed-use scheme has already been submitted and, at the time of writing, a major department store and a national cinema chain are both close to signing on the dotted line – as is Crowne Plaza for a prestigious new hotel.
Anticipated to create more than 1000 jobs, the open, single-level scheme has been designed with three main east-west shopping streets and two north-south streets to integrate seamlessly with the existing city centre. The creation of this strong shopping offer – anchored by the new department store – will extend and complete a city centre ‘figure of 8’ shopping circuit.
This will enhance shopper flows around the city and the increased attraction will bring in more shoppers from the wealthy surrounding catchment – with their expenditure expected to increase comparison goods spending by 33%.
Chester Northgate is set to generate a ‘step change’ for the city and propel Chester back into being once of the nation’s Top 50 shopping destinations.
The first phase of development will create a new ‘Market Square’ that will form the main leisure focus of the scheme. Both the new 6-screen cinema and covered market will face onto the square with cafes and restaurants alongside them.
The square will have pedestrian links with the new cultural centre, Storyhouse, on Hunter Street and the shopping within both the scheme and the city centre. It will also link with Northgate Street through Hunter’s Walk, an early phase of development that will see the former library building converted into an arcade of cafes and restaurants.
City centre living is now very attractive to those who wish to make the most of the cultural offer. Chester Northgate incorporates town houses and apartments above the shops, cafes and restaurants, and having an increased number of residents living in the city cetnre will add to the overall ambience and vitality.
As a key part of the development Crowne Plaza will move into a new 168-bedroom, 4-star hotel on Princess Street. Located yards from the new cinema, the cultural centre, numerous cafes and restaurants, as well as the shopping, the hotel will become an important landmark in the city centre. With extensive conference facilities and an exclusive rooftop restaurant overlooking the Welsh hills, it will undoubtedly draw the business traveller as well as tourists to the city centre.