ACME’s long-awaited proposals to overhaul the Northgate Quarter in Chester’s historic city centre have been submitted for planning
The practice has been working for four years on the £300 million retail-led scheme - itself a replacement for abandoned proposals drawn up by architects Hopkins and Chapman Taylor for ING Real Estate Developers.
Backed by Chester West and Chester Council, ACME’s plans for the 5.6ha shopping quarter have evolved considerably since the first concepts emerged in early 2013 (see AJ 15.03.13).
Last year plans for a new four-star hotel and conference centre were added to the masterplan which also features 46,000m² of shops; a six-screen cinema, cafes and restaurants set around a new square; 120 homes; offices; and a new market hall to replace the current Chester Market.
The development is expected to be delivered in two stages, with the first phase due to start on site in autumn 2017.
The second phase, scheduled to begin in 2019, includes the demolition of the Crowne Plaza hotel, Forum shopping centre and several other buildings to make way for a new department store, several new streets and a ’number of new buildings comprising, retail, residential and office uses’.
Both phases are designed to ‘connect seamlessly’ to the historic fabric of Chester, with new routes opening towards Watergate Street in the south, the cathedral in the east and the racecourse in the west.
It is understood the council’s planning committee will consider the proposals in early autumn. The development is due to complete in 2021.
Northgate has been under consideration for several decades, and a number of developers have tried to create a viable scheme for the site but work never commenced beyond planning stages. In 2011, the council decided that Northgate was of vital importance for the city centre, and that the best way to create a viable and deliverable scheme benefiting all of Chester was to terminate development agreements with third parties and develop their own proposals.
Site section of ACME’s Chester plans
The ACME led design team was appointed in a competitive tender process in 2012, and has been working with the council over the last 4 years to develop a new vision for this part of the historic city centre. In December 2013, the council purchased the Forum shopping centre – formerly owned by ING – and it now owns around 85% of the 14-acre site.
It is expected that the application will go to the council’s planning committee for a decision in the early autumn. If approved, it is anticipated that the whole development will be completed and opened during 2021.