Work will start on the first stage of Chester’s groundbreaking £100m Central Business Quarter early next year – it was announced today (Friday).
Developers, the Manchester-based Muse Developments – part of the leading construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall plc – revealed the start date after winning unanimous backing for the first phase of the iconic scheme from Cheshire West and Chester’s Strategic Planning Committee.
The six-story environmentally excellent office block near the city’s historic railway station will provide 70,000 square feet of office space, due for completion in 2015.
The scheme, a major project within the One City Plan, also includes the remodelling of part of the Grade II* listed station and adjoining Queen Hotel complex to create a new landscaped public realm area and ‘gateway’ from the station into the Business Quarter.
Today (Friday) Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments, said: “The Central Business Quarter is of huge strategic importance to Chester, representing the very definition of an attractive and sustainable development.
“It will deliver huge benefits to the city ensuring quality regeneration, the retention of existing businesses and the promotion of growth and inward investment.”
By 2028, it is planned that Chester’s Central Business Quarter will offer a total of 440,000 square feet of state-of-the-art office space – housed in seven office blocks – creating around 3,500 jobs.
The 7.5-acre site in a landscaped setting bordered by the station complex, City Road, Boughton and Hoole Lane, will also include 200 homes, restaurants, leisure facilities and car parking both for the station, offices and residents.
Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, said: “This is timely and monumental step in helping to guarantee Chester’s commercial future for present and future generations.
“The Business Quarter will complement our retail and tourism industries and drive us towards the One City Plan vision of becoming a world-class destination.”
Part of the overall scheme includes the redevelopment of the former Leadworks and Shot Tower for residential use by Neptune Developments, and the transformation of the Boughton Retail Centre for creating a new Waitrose store and associated retail units.
Local Member, Councillor David Robinson, said: “The site has the potential for being the economic powerhouse of the whole sub-region.
“It will also introduce significant ‘greening’ to what at the moment is a bleak landscape on the first viewing of Chester that many rail visitors get.”
The traffic impact could concern local residents and he called for an effectively managed traffic plan and residents parking measures in surrounding roads to cope with possible overspill.
The question of affordable homes will also be considered as the phased development progresses.
Professor Steven Broomhead, Chairman of Chester Renaissance, said: “This is an excellent result for Muse Developments and all the partners who have worked together on this scheme since 2009. It shows the strength that Chester has as a key strategic employment site in Cheshire and the rest of the North West region. We will continue to work with Muse as this scheme moves from planning to delivery.”
Chester’s central location has always helped to attract businesses and with just a two hour journey to London by train the location of the Central Business Quarter is designed to appeal to both national and international companies.
Over the last 18 months, Chester Renaissance and Muse Developments have had ongoing discussions with many stakeholders about the proposals through public drop in sessions, community meetings, guided site tours, briefings and a design review panel.
Photo: Chester Business Quarter masterplan