WORK on phase one of the ambitious Chester Central Business Quarter will start by May 2014 at the latest with the £115 million scheme forecast to create thousands of jobs.
Manchester firm Muse Developments confirmed work had to begin by that date in order for the scheme to qualify for money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Set to be built in stages over the next 15 years, the Chester Central Business Quarter will be situated on land between Chester Railway Station and Charterhall Drive.
Full planning permission has been granted for phase one which includes a six-storey office block with outline plans for the rest of the site, including seven office blocks, 200 homes, restaurants, shops and leisure facilities.
Phil Mayall, director of Muse Developments, praised Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) for the help given to the developers when he addressed city business leaders at the Queen Hotel on Station Road yesterday morning.
He said: “We have been working with the council for a long time over this but one thing which has been constant has been the support of the local authority.
“This will be a 10 to 15 year scheme and we are in this for the long haul.
“We want it to be a fantastic space where people feel they can dwell.”
Integral to the One City Plan for Chester, the business quarter includes the former Lloyds Banking Group site which Muse Developments has acquired.
The canalside between Boughton and the city centre will see major regeneration in the coming years, with Waitrose building a new supermarket on the Boughton Retail Centre site and a residential development on the Shot Tower and former leadworks site.
Mr Mayall said work on the three schemes would take place at the same time but has promised to keep disruption to a minimum.
He said: “Three developers: us, Waitrose and Neptune will all be on site at the same time. We are meeting with them every month to try to reduce the impact on residents and Chester’s businesses.”
Mr Mayall said the first office block would take 18 months to complete and would provide high quality office space.
He said: “There have been people saying businesses in Chester are happy working in converted Georgian buildings and above shops. We just want to get on with it.”
Some business leaders were concerned about the lack of car parking, but Mr Mayall said one option being considered was to build a multi-storey car park.