MULTI-million pound plans to transform the Boughton canalside and create hundreds of new jobs look set to get the go-ahead.
Supermarket firm Waitrose’s proposed £40 million scheme includes a 4,500 sq metre store, two retail units and 120-bed hotel together with bars and restaurants.
The retailer wants to redevelop Boughton Retail Centre and believes the ambitious scheme could create 400 jobs and continue the canalside’s regeneration.
Planning officers have backed the plans and they look likely to be given the green light by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s influential strategic planning committee later today.
Boughton Retail Centre was built in the 1980s but two of the four units are vacant and some feel the centre is past its sell-by date.
Waitrose bought the centre in 2010 and the proposed scheme also incorporates the derelict St Paul’s School site and former petrol station.
Under the plans, more than 200 parking spaces will be provided underneath the supermarket with the two retail units fronting the main road.
The hotel will be the centrepiece of a four-storey complex featuring an al fresco bar, cafe and restaurant facing the canal.
There will also be a new pedestrian walkway through the site and new footbridge across the canal to the Shot Tower site and proposed Chester Business Quarter development.
Case officer Nial Casselden has recommended the plans are approved and believes work on the scheme will begin in 2015.
His report states: “It is considered the proposed development would deliver a sustainable, comprehensive and positive development, which would aid with economic development and the regeneration of a currently greatly under-used part of the city, which has suffered in the latter part of the 20th century through ill-thought and poor design and subsequent dereliction.
“It is also considered the proposal would help to deliver the council’s objectives for the development of the wider area, especially the central business district and would link well with development on the other side of the canal.”
Waitrose undertook extensive public consultation on the scheme last October, setting up computer generated images and a scale model in one of the vacant stores at the retail centre.
The retailer said the proposed development had received widespread support from residents and businesses.
But not everybody is in favour with 21 Steven Court residents signing a petition against the plans. Opponents fear there will be unacceptable levels of noise, dust, mess and traffic.
There are also concerns over the consultation process and the existing number of supermarkets in and around Chester.
But planning officers are happy the scheme will help breath new life into the area and complement the city’s existing retail offering.
Mr Casselden’s report states: “Whilst close to the city centre, it is not considered the development would be detrimental to the vitality or viability of the city centre as the nature of retail to be provided would be different to the majority of shops within the city centre at present.
“The creation of the two new smaller retail units on the Boughton frontage will increase the number of local shops available and tie-in with the existing provision of smaller retail units along Boughton.”