Chester’s proposed Business Quarter was given a major boost on Monday, 8 August with the news that one of Britain’s leading commercial development companies has acquired the city’s former Lloyds Banking Group site.
Manchester-based Muse Developments have bought the 3.5 acre site, designated to be the heart of a Business Quarter offering 500,000 square feet of prime office space and the potential to create over 1,000 jobs.
The existing Premier House building will be demolished to make way for the first two phases of the development, which will comprise of two BREEAM Excellent, six storey Grade A office buildings totalling 150,000 square feet.
Development will be complemented by the provision of new public realm works, linking it with Chester Station and Shropshire Union canal.
Muse Developments expect to submit a planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council in early 2012, with construction anticipated to start by 2013.
Phil Mayall, the company’s Senior Development Surveyor, said: “We are delighted to announce the agreement of this acquisition from Lloyds Banking Group. We have worked closely with Lloyds to ensure that the new development complements its campus whilst creating an exciting new business destination for the City of Chester.
“We feel that the location with its strong transport links, amenities and close proximity to the historic Chester City centre will prove attractive to businesses looking for modern, sustainable premises.”
Council Leader, Cllr Mike Jones, said: “This is excellent news and demonstrates a substantial vote of confidence from the private sector in the Council’s vision for the future of Chester.
“Following closely behind the recent announcement regarding the proposed development of the canal-side Shot Tower site, it represents a major boost for our exciting Business Quarter concept.”
Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, said: “Muse Developments has provided proof that the emerging Chester is seen as a city of the future by developers – despite the current stringent financial climate.
“The Council’s recent decision to acquire the vital Odeon site is further evidence of our determination to transform the city into a world-class destination.”
Leading UK property consultancy GVA advised Muse Developments on the acquisition.
GVA Director, Simon Reynolds, said: “This an exciting opportunity which will enable Chester City Centre to compete with other key regional centres such as Liverpool and Manchester, in attracting inward investment and a wide range of blue chip occupiers to the City.
“The new Business Quarter will also provide Grade ‘A’ office accommodation, which will be a market leader in terms of design and sustainability.”
A vital part of Chester’s One City Plan, the proposed Business Quarter, with its proximity to Chester Station, benefiting from a direct, two hour connection to London, will drive Chester’s commercial offer and economic growth, including the city’s retail and evening economies.
Professor Steven Broomhead, Former Chief Executive of the NWDA and the man chosen to lead the regeneration of Chester, described the news as a early and major boost for the Business Quarter concept.
Mr Broomhead, said: “Whilst the complete scheme could take at least a decade to complete we could have hardly had a more encouraging start.”
Muse Developments is one of the country’s leading names in commercial development and urban regeneration.
The announcement comes in the same month that the national developer was named as Warrington Borough Council’s partner for the £130 million Bridge Street regeneration.
Computer generated impression of the Business Quarter development.