WORK looks set to begin on a massive new housing scheme in Chester city centre.
Fencing has been placed around the long-stay Northgate car park ahead of the anticipated start of work to build the new Northgate Arena Extra Care Housing Scheme.
There will be more than 130 new apartments created once the new Northgate Avenue building is completed.
Planning approval for the application by Liverpool-based Arena Housing was granted in January amid support from local councillors and politicians.
Christine Russell, who said the development had been a long-running issue dating back to when she was MP for Chester, expressed her pleasure at the end finally being in sight.
“It is very welcome but long overdue,” she said. “We have wanted to see schemes like this in Chester and I remember pushing for them.”
Mrs Russell said there has been controversy in the past about what was planned to go on on that land.
Six years ago West Cheshire College was refused permission for a new campus on the site after a concerted campaign of opposition led by Northgate Village Residents Association.
“But as far as I am aware people who live nearby are pleased at what is being done now,” Mrs Russell said.
“There are lots of elderly people living in the neighbourhood who may welcome the opportunity to be involved in a scheme where they will not have to give up their independence.
“Arena Housing has a good track record in Chester.”
The development will contain 131 one or two bedroom apartments for people aged 55 and over. About four-fifths will be affordable housing, offering a mixture of rented and shared ownership.
The development will include a bistro, hairdressing salon, craft room, library and IT room. Some of the facilities will be available to the wider community.
Speaking in support of the project at the council’s planning committee meeting in January, ward councillor Tom Parry said: “Extra Care Housing provides a lot of older people with new homes and access to care as they need it, providing safe and sociable environments and also providing community facilities for the wider benefit in the local area.”
Fellow ward councillor Adrian Walmsley also expressed his full support for the application.
Two consultation events for the scheme were held last year, ahead of the planning application being submitted.
A small number of objection letters were received during the planning consultation process.