What is Chester Northgate?

Chester Northgate is the most significant development in Chester for decades and will transform the city’s historic core, supporting the whole city to thrive.

It will create jobs, increase tourism and drive economic growth.

Phase 1 of Chester Northgate will create a significant new destination within the heart of the city, complementing other key One City Plan investments such as the Central Business Quarter, Storyhouse and the new bus station.

Phase 1 plans of the exciting mixed use development, which will include a new relocated dynamic and modern market, six-screen cinema, restaurants, a public square and car parking, will see work begin by the end of 2019.

Relocating Chester Market will be at the heart of the first phase, with ambitious plans to become one of the best markets in the country.

Since its opening the high-quality Storyhouse has smashed its first year targets and welcomed over one million visitors.

Chester Northgate’s 715-seat, 6-screen Picturehouse cinema will sit alongside Storyhouse completing a very powerful leisure combination. Restaurants have already signed up to the exciting scheme including Tapas Revolution, Zizzi and Cosy Club.

What is the timetable? Why won’t work start until the end of next year?

The next year will be spent completing feasibility studies, appointing a preferred contractor, continuing tenant negotiations, submitting plans to planning and beginning construction enabling works for Phase 1.

Updated plans for Phase 1 will be released in Spring 2019. Pre-construction and enabling works start in Autumn 2019 and construction on site in early 2020. The new timetable has a Phase 1 completion in Spring 2021.

What’s happening to Chester Market?

Relocating Chester Market will be at the heart of the first phase, with ambitious plans to become one of the best markets in the country.

It has been transformed over the past year and has returned to full capacity, footfall is steadily increasing welcoming over a million visitors last year and it now has a waiting list for traders.

A lot of work has been done over the past year to support traders and to maintain this momentum this work will continue. A new website was launched www.chester.market that includes profiles of all the traders and links to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Pinterest.

How do you plan to keep the local business community informed and engaged throughout this process?

We have always involved key groups within the Chester community throughout this scheme, from the One City Plan, numerous consultations and the open Public Inquiry.

There has been significant discussions in the past few months with stakeholders helping to shape the future of this part of the city.

Their views are very important to us and it’s vital that we hear all opinions, not just those of a few. We are working very closely with Chester Growth Partnership to ensure this happens.

Why has the project incurred delays?

Chester Northgate is a large and complex development, time scales are never easy when there are uncontrollable elements. There were earlier construction start dates but securing the Compulsory Purchase Order permissions before construction was the safest option. We are constantly monitoring the economic environment and our plans will adapt accordingly.

Changes to timetables is a common element in developments of this nature.

How many shops are built in to the scheme?

We are now proposing to start the first phase of development that includes a new cinema, market, restaurants and public space and new car parking facilities. This will attract more visitors to the city enhancing the leisure activities already established by Storyhouse.

There are no shops planned for Phase 1 other than traders in the new market. Over the next 12 months we will do a lot of work to establish what retail in the future looks like for both the city and future phases.

What is the total cost of the development?

The cost of the Phase 1 scheme comprising the cinema, restaurants, market and new car park would be c£60 million and the capital value on completion would be c£50 million.

Although never a profit making venture, Phase 1 will bring significant regeneration to the area and pave the way for successful future phases.

This is a long term investment in the city and as a local authority we have the advantage that our development plans are driven by achieving long term benefits for residents, businesses and visitors.

There appears to be a lot of risk attached to this project – was it mistake taking it on?

This is a long term investment in the city and as a local authority we have the advantage that our development plans are driven by achieving long term benefits for residents, businesses and visitors. No other developer is in a position to deliver Northgate.

This is a unique opportunity to revitalise this historic part of the city centre and improve our leisure offer for residents, businesses and visitors. It will bring jobs, support existing businesses and drive visitor numbers. Doing nothing is not an option.

We are incredibly prudent with our finances and risks are measured and reported in an open and transparent way.

We have a joint member working group which receives regular updates, takes key decisions and tracks progress, we also provide regular reports to Cabinet and Council.

Funding is only unlocked in portions when key milestones are met. If they are not met the next set of funding will not be released.

In this way even though the overall costs are significant the opportunity to review progress every step of the way means the impact on the public purse is well managed.

What will happen to the land future phases will occupy while Phase 1 progresses?

Due to the necessity for the new market to have been completed before the current market can close there will be a period of time where land earmarked for future phases isn’t being redeveloped.

Due to this we will be looking at various ways that we can use the Forum during this time.

Why was the CPO applied for?

Cheshire West and Chester Council already owned 85 per cent of the proposed footprint for the development. Having control of the full site will enable maximum flexibility to design and deliver the proposals.

It has enabled us to acquire the land needed, change the road layouts and progress our plans for a dynamic new market.

We will now work closely with the 250+ landowners involved in the CPO process.

Why do you need another £6 million before Phase One begins?

The £6 million will be spent in three tranches. An initial £1 million will allow us to complete final feasibility, appoint a preferred contractor, continue tenant negotiations and submit designs to planning for Phase 1.

Two further sets of £2.5 million will enable Phase One to begin. The release of these funds will be subject to the project meeting key milestones.

Phase 1 – Final Feasibility, £1m
Q4 2018 – Q1 2019

  • Document outcome of tenant negotiations
  • Update business case assumptions
  • Award of CPO
  • Procure team for pre-consultation stage

Phase 1 – Design, £2.5m
Q1 2019 – Q3 2019

  • Design finalisation
  • Continue tenant negotiations and necessary CPO implementation
  • Submission of planning documents
  • Planning determination

Phase 1 – Contractor Enabling, £2.5m
Q3 2019 – Q1 2020

  • Commerce pre-construction enabling works
  • Contractor interpretation and refining of client’s design
  • Fixed price contract for Phase 1 build

Final proposal to Cabinet/Council to commence phase construction

Spring 2021

  • Phase 1 completed