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ACME reworks £300m central Chester plans

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ACME is set to revise its Northgate masterplan in Chester city centre to include a new four star hotel

Next week councillors at Cheshire West and Chester Council will consider amendments to the already consented plans (see AJ 03.10.13). According to council officers, the changes have been brought about by the improving property market.

The new hotel, planned to replace the existing Crowne Plaza, is among a number of alterations recommended following a review of the Northgate masterplan undertaken by development manager Rivington Land on behalf of the authority.

The original 2013 masterplan built around the existing hotel but due to the economic recovery, a more comprehensive redevelopment is now considered viable, according to the company.

A report going to the council’s cabinet says: ‘This option has the benefit of securing a more central and prominent site for the anchor department store with excellent visibility from St.Martin’s Way.

‘It also provides a strong, legible retail circuit with more prime frontage; an improved design interface along St. Martin’s Way; a better and more user-friendly car parking solution and the added benefit of delivering a modern four star hotel with spa and conference facilities and a more comprehensive and sympathetic regeneration scheme.’

The Northgate site sits next to Chester Town Hall and a separately proposed new theatre and library, and is reserved for significant new retail development, along with leisure uses and a new market.

Other proposed changes include the inclusion of a small number of new homes, fewer but larger bars and restaurants, and improved access between Northgate and surrounding developments.

If the changes are approved, a hybrid planning application is expected to be submitted in February, and a decision made by summer 2016.

Previous story (AJ 03.10.13)

Council throws weight behind ACME’s £300m Chester plans

The authority approved the ‘procurement of a development team and finance’ to push forward the ambitious, council-backed Northgate Quarter scheme, paving the way for more detailed plans to be submitted by spring 2015.

The project replaces a previous multimillion-pound proposal by architects Hopkins and Chapman Taylor for ING Real Estate Developers, which was ditched by the council in February after languishing on the drawing board for more than a decade.

The authority has instead decided to deliver the development itself. As well as department stores, a new market building, shops, restaurants and cafés, the development includes a multiscreen cinema and refurbished car parking for 954 cars.

According to ACME, which won a competitive pitch to land the commission last summer, the masterplan will ‘knit the site into the surrounding city centre by restoring the historic street pattern and establishing a character that relates to the city’s old Rows and courtyards’.


The architect’s view

Chester is famous for its historic Rows: recessed walkways set above street-level which line the two main routes through the city. These streets subdivide the city centre into quarters, one of which is the site of this new masterplan to rejuvenate Chester’s ailing retail offer and market. A bus terminal, market, library and large 1980s-era shopping centre currently occupy the site, but add little to the beauty of the surrounding historic fabric.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Geoff Williams

    Chester's historic Rows are a protected feature of Chester's shopping area. Protection against fire has to be an essential requirement. Moreover, access to the city centre is difficult due to narrow streets that are often gridlocked. Fire fighting would be a considerable hazard. Best practice would be to chose the ultimate in enhanced fire survival equipment and electric cables to provide security of the electrical supply. Maintaining the electrical supply would be critical in fire conditions.

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