2020 marks the start of a large number of new investment projects in Chester including new environmentally-friendly drainage for the city centre, the start of the much-anticipated Chester Northgate project and house building.
Chester’s One City Plan, designed to build a sustainable city fit for the future, identifies over £777 million investment in the city. The 15 year plan was launched in 2012 with over £247 million projects delivered to date. A further £29.7 million of projects are currently on site.
The first of these works will be the installation of a new environmentally-friendly drain system beginning on March 9.
The drain will ensure Chester has far greater capacity for the drainage of surface water and will significantly reduce the risk of flooding or drain bursts, and raw sewage outfalls into the River Dee.
Taking approximately one year to complete the project will ensure the city can cope with excess water for the benefit of residents and businesses alike.
At present a single pipe has to cope with both surface water and foul water from properties. During heavy rainfall this can sometimes overload the system and means the waste water treatment works has to treat rain water. This not only is a waste of energy, it also means that there is less room in the network for waste water.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth said: “Chester is a city with a rich historical past and an exciting future. Over the coming weeks and months a significant number of new development projects will get underway, helping to create a greener and more sustainable city for residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy.
“This will unfortunately mean that there will be an unavoidable impact on our roads. If you are coming into Chester or travelling through, please check your route carefully before setting off and wherever possible consider walking or cycling if you are able to do so, or use public transport instead of a car.
“Don’t forget about the park and ride, which is the cheapest and quickest way to get transport into the city and to key sites like The Countess of Chester Hospital.
“Chester is already a popular destination, our footfall counters in the city centre recorded over 30 million people last year. Together with our partners in the business, tourism, culture and community sectors we are creating amazing places and high quality attractions for residents and visitors. The biggest project in the city this year is Chester Northgate, which starts this spring.”
The surface water drain will follow the direction of St Martin’s Way, Nicholas Street, Grosvenor Road and Castle Drive to the River Dee. It will be approximately 1km in length of which 800m will be installed by tunnelling.
The route is the most efficient and technically feasible given the constraints within the historic city centre.
The first phase of traffic management between March and July, will affect southbound traffic along St. Martin’s Way and Nicholas Street; requiring lane closures and footpath restrictions, resulting in places where two lanes will be filtered into one. There may also be some occasional northbound lane closures.
For the second phase of the drain construction the traffic management system will change and will run from July 2020 to May 2021. More information will be available on this closer to the time.
As part of the drainage construction project, eleven trees will unfortunately need to be felled. The route of the drain and manhole shafts has been carefully positioned so that 90 per cent of the trees along the route will be unaffected, however it is unavoidable that three trees on Grosvenor Roundabout, four on Castle Drive and four on the Dee Riverbank will need to be felled.
A comprehensive mitigation plan involving the planting of 100 trees will be undertaken in partnership with the Mersey Forest in order to compensate for the loss.
Cllr Beacham added: “We would never remove trees unless absolutely necessary and in this case 90 per cent of trees on the route are unaffected. Please be assured that all eleven trees will be replaced and as part of our work with the Mersey Forest 100 trees will be planted to compensate. We have carried out surveys on each of the trees identified to ensure no birds are nesting in them.
“The benefits this new environmentally friendly drain will have on the city are huge, helping to relieve pressure on our existing sewage system, reducing the likelihood of overflow discharges into the River Dee and creating opportunities for important new development opportunities – like housing – in the future.”
The most appropriate way to construct the drain, with minimal disruption and environmental impact, is through tunnelling rather than cutting through the ground for around 85 per cent of the drain route.
Work will take place in more than one location for efficiency of working and to minimise the period of disruption. The Council is working with Welsh Water and the Environment Agency to ensure that the drain meets water industry and environmental standards. It is also important to consider geology, archaeology and topography to ensure the most efficient and cost effective construction solution.
A tunnelling machine will work between deep shafts reaching 7m underground and can typically cut 5m a day. This method minimises disruption above ground. Where possible, this will allow junctions to remain in use as the level of tunnelling will not impact the traffic above. However, some disruption will be caused by digging and cordoning off the shafts and storage of materials, above ground plant and equipment.
Impact on the highways and some inconvenience to journeys into and out of the city centre will be unavoidable. The Council is working to keep disruption to a minimum, live road congestion can be checked online and regular updates will be shared