A Growth Prospectus for Chester, which showcases development opportunities in the city such as the £300m Northgate scheme and the £100m Central Business Quarter, is set to be launched in London.
High-profile developer Guy Butler, chairman of the Chester Growth Partnership, says that the aim is to get the key players in Chester’s property sector to think bigger and show that the city is open for business.
The Chester Growth Prospectus is being launched at the headquarters of the Grosvenor Estate on Grosvenor Street in London on Wednesday, 29 June 2016. The Grosvenor Estate, which represents all of the business activities of the Grosvenor family headed by the Duke of Westminster, has several assets in Chester.
The prospectus highlights Chester’s strengths as a business location and its pipeline of new places to live and work. This includes the £100m Central Business Quarter, which has planning permission to deliver 500,000 sq ft of office space, retail and residential accommodation near Chester railway station.
The £300m Northgate redevelopment project (pictured above) also features prominently. The newly submitted plans for open shopping streets and squares include Storyhouse, the forthcoming £37m cultural centre, as its centrepiece accompanied by a new hotel with conference facilities and a revitalised market hall.
Other opportunities include the St Anne’s House grade A office complex, the Crown Park residential scheme on the former Saighton Camp army site and further development at Chester Business Park.
The London event has been arranged by the Chester Growth Partnership, the organisation charged with taking forward the wider One City Plan for Chester.
Butler said: “Nobody’s been thinking big enough before but if we can get people to think bigger we can show that Chester is open for business and business-friendly. My ambition is to get the city’s property market moving because it’s not moving fast enough.”
“I want people to engage with the Chester Growth Partnership and start looking at Chester as an opportunity. And I want them to retain and invest in their assets in Chester and maybe add new assets.”
Butler is also a director of Glenbrook, the Manchester-based property developer and one of the pioneers of private rented sector (PRS) accommodation to the North West, which he joined in 2015. The company’s key projects include the Keel, a scheme comprising 240 PRS apartments in a former tax office on Liverpool’s Queen’s Dock which opened last year, and Ellesmere Street, a development of 232 PRS apartments scheduled for completion in 2018.
He believes that one of the main factors limiting Chester’s growth is a lack of quality accommodation options.
He said: “What Chester needs to do is retain the students. It’s a big university city but for example we don’t have the housing that encourages them to stay.
“We need private rented sector, we need better connections to big employers outside of the city like MBNA and MoneySupermarket, and we need to give people an incentive to live in the city centre.”
Prior to Glenbrook, Butler worked for 15 years at Grosvenor, starting on its Liverpool One scheme in 2002 and taking over as project director for the landmark mixed-use regeneration scheme in 2008. While at Grosvenor, he helped to organise events in London to generate support for the Liverpool One development.
He said: “It’s notoriously hard to get the key people out of London. So we’re bringing Chester to London.
“We’ve looked at who owns Chester and who’s active in the market and we’re going to get them all in the room together. It’s about getting people talking about Chester.”
Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments, sits alongside Butler on the Chester Growth Partnership board. Muse is behind Chester’s Central Business Quarter regeneration scheme and recently launched One City Place, a 70,000 grade A office development, to the market.
He said: “The big picture for Chester is very positive. The city’s location offers many advantages for business and there’s an undeniably attractive lifestyle offer. The regeneration strategy is about building on the strong base of being a heritage city.
“One City Place is the fulcrum of a new Central Business District that will help Chester make the most of its potential as a business location and allow the city centre to become more economically productive.”
The Chester Growth Partnership, formerly Chester Renaissance, has responsibility for overseeing the progress of Chester’s One City Plan, a 15-year strategy to guide the future economic regeneration of Chester. The plan defines the overarching vision and direction of travel for the city under which all projects should sit.
The organisation’s partners include Cheshire West & Chester Council, CH1 Chester BID Company, the University of Chester, Chester Racecourse and Chester Zoo.
Anyone interested in attending the Chester Growth Prospectus launch in London is advised to contact the Chester Growth Partnership for further details.