Cheshire West and Chester Council has revealed ambitions for future developments in Ellesmere Port and Chester to bring new investment and create jobs.
The Government recently announced the Levelling Up Funding (LUF) which aims to invest in infrastructure projects to improve everyday life across the UK. Local authorities were invited to bid for a slice of the £4.8bn funding package.
A series of transformational projects have been identified for the first round of bidding, which will revitalise buildings and landmarks, improve highway and transport links and create new green spaces are currently on the drawing board.
In Ellesmere Port, a package of investment projects worth £16m has been put together. If successful, it will include a £9m makeover for the town’s Civic Hall to create a vibrant community asset that will bring more people into the centre, day and night.
It will be complemented by improvements to Civic Square and a flagship greening project which will create a green interconnected corridor through the town. There will also be other improvements to public spaces to encourage people to stay in the town including public art and lighting installations.
There are also plans to improve traffic flow through the town centre, new priority measures for public transport and improved facilities for pedestrians.
The proposed new scheme will be in addition to the work already underway on the new £17m Bus Interchange and Public Services Hub with the new square and in the town’s Industrial Area to create a world leading green energy hub that could attract up to £2bn of inward investment with the potential to create over 20,000 new jobs.
Plans for Chester revolve around the historic pride, the visitor economy, business growth and transportation.
The Council and its partners want to lay the foundations for the City Gateway project by further developing the City Place business quarter near Chester train station.
The project will include a new archive and history centre, landscaping and public art, a new transport ‘hub’ to support rail travellers, more than 70,000 square feet of high-quality office space, new business incubator units and 200 new homes.
The Council has worked in conjunction with Chester MP Chris Matheson and Ellesmere Port MP Justin Madders on the bids, which will see more than £30m investment pumped into the borough if they are selected.
Welcoming the LUF bid, Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: “Revitalising our town centre is one of the biggest priorities for people in Ellesmere Port so I have been working with Cheshire West and Chester Council to shape a new vision for our town that, with the right level of investment, can be delivered.
“We hope to improve transport and access to the town centre, as well as restoring public areas in the town centre. Our plans will strengthen the sense of pride about our town centre in the local community, tackle health inequalities and drive footfall to the retail areas as well as complimenting the investment the Council is already making in the town centre.
“A comprehensive funding package for Ellesmere Port town centre is long overdue and I will be doing all within my powers in Parliament to ensure we succeed with this imaginative Levelling Up Funding bid.”
Chris Matheson, MP for Chester added: “Chester is a city that is built on layers of history. Our cultural and heritage offers are intertwined, and this bid complements them perfectly, knitting together sustainable 21st Century development seamlessly with pride in our city’s heritage and our future economic growth.
“With space to attract new businesses, a plan to create new jobs and a place to celebrate our city’s rich history, this LUF bid has the potential to further define Chester as a sustainable place that’s open to visitors and open for business. I congratulate the Council on a superb and highly credible bid and I give it my wholehearted support.”
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy and Regeneration, said: “These two bids are the first of four which the council intends to submit to ensure west Cheshire gets its fair share of the government’s levelling up funds. They are ambitious in scope and have the potential to benefit every resident in all quarters of our borough.
“We believe that west Cheshire is a great place to do business and a prime location for companies to come and invest. We want to provide local communities with the best possible facilities and make it easier for residents to move around our towns and city centre.
“Let’s create jobs, let’s celebrate our history, let’s be proud of our town centres! With our strong track record of attracting significant investment and our borough’s prime location, I believe we are putting a strong case to the government.”
The bids for the Chester and Ellesmere Port schemes have been submitted to the government with two further bids being prepared for Northwich and Winsford, including improved transportation and town centre works.
Last year, the Council was successful in securing £10m from the Future High Street Fund to support a larger £21m scheme for the regeneration of Winsford Town Centre. The Winsford scheme will including new retail units, community spaces and road and transport improvements. Consultation on the Winsford plans is already underway.
The Council and partners will now have to wait until early autumn to see if the bids to the LUF have been successful.