Talking West Cheshire

Chester Business Quarter could create over 1,100 new jobs - Executive told

6 September 2010

Chester's proposed Central Business Quarter will have the capacity to create over 1,100 new jobs.

Members of Cheshire West and Chester Council's Executive will learn of the potential jobs boost when they consider a development framework for the proposal next Wednesday (8 September).

The framework, the result of six months work, will establish standards and guiding principals for development within the proposed business quarter.

Approval will be a major milestone in plans to create a vibrant, distinctive and sustainable business quarter east and south of the City's main railway station.

A report before members from Director of Culture and Regeneration, Charlie Seward, states that the Business Quarter area has the capacity to deliver at least 500,000 square feet of new office space and a further 150,000 sq feet of retail/leisure/active commercial space.

Over 870 of the 1,100 new jobs would represent high-value knowledge-based office employment.

"It is therefore a major scheme with huge potential to drive significant economic growth and transform Chester City Centre’s commercial offer", said the Director.

The Draft Development Framework and Vision were both a subject of a six week public consultation in May and June this year which included a manned exhibition at the railway station, public meeting and letters to all residents and statutory consultees.

Comments from over 80 written responses have been assessed and taken into account in the preparation of the development framework.

Cllr Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, said: "Approval of the Business Quarter Development Framework will be a major milestone in our plans to realise the City's full commercial potential.

"Consultation has gone extremely well and revealed very strong interest among residents and businesses in the area.

"We have listened very carefully to what everyone has to say particularly with regard to traffic, access and egress issues."

Added Cllr Manley: "If approval is received we will begin discussion with the land owners and the prospective development partner on phase one with the intention of submitting a planning application later this year."

The area around the railway station - Chester Rail Gateway - has already been identified as a key development opportunity for the North West region.

Proposals are long term and it is envisaged that the full development of the business quarter will take up to 15 years to achieve.

It is recommended to members that the first phase of the scheme includes a visible landmark building with a strong link to the station and a new public realm proposal.

"Delivery will be private sector lead but in a strong partnership with the Council and public sector", said Mr Seward.

Funding sources being explored include the European Regional Development Fund, Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas and the emerging Regional Growth Fund.