THE team which will be responsible for masterminding a £300 million project designed to secure Chester’s future as a top retail centre has been announced.
Preferred bidders to lead design and development of Chester Northgate are London-based Rivington Land – real estate development and asset management specialists – and ACME, the contemporary urban design and architecture practice.
Procured under European Union regulations, the team will be charged with achieving planning determination for the vital mixed leisure and retail development by autumn, next year.
The announcement is the first step in a programme that will see the completion of the multiplex-cinema, market hall, car park and food court by late autumn 2017, with the construction of the new retail centre in the following two years.
Committed to opening a Chester office by the end of the year, Rivington Land will lead the scheme through the planning; secure the necessary retail and leisure operators and attract external investor interest.
Specialists in retail and mixed use development, the company will manage the development process to ensure that Northgate is delivered on a commercially viable basis.
Chief executive David Lewis said: “We are utterly delighted to have been chosen as development manager for the Northgate scheme – which is an outstanding opportunity to create a fantastic commercial retail-environment in the heart of one of England’s most attractive and distinctive cities.”
Rivington Land will be supported by the architect-led professional team, which will harness technical professionals across a range of disciplines such as transport engineering and archaeology.
ACME completed the initial Northgate Masterplan in 2013 and has extensive experience in urban regeneration, having worked on Victoria Gate Leeds, Watermark Southampton, Smithfield Birmingham, Sevenstone Sheffield, Bishopsgate Goodsyard London, Robina Town Centre in Queensland and Eastland Melbourne.
ACME project director Catherine Hennessy said: “Chester is a special place. We have greatly enjoyed working on the masterplan concept for Northgate with the city and its people over the last two years and we think it is a privilege to be a part of the team that will see the Northgate scheme move forward from vision to reality.”
The appointment of the development manager and professional team is a key milestone for the Northgate scheme. It marks the start of detailed planning for delivery and serious engagement with commercial retailers.
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “Northgate is testament to the importance we attach to ensuring Chester continues to be a successful retail and leisure destination.
“It will provide a vibrant, contemporary shopping experience with a successful mix of well established brands and high quality independent stores.”
The council owns all of the land for the first phase of Northgate and 85 per cent of the overall site; it plans to secure the remaining assets through negotiation and compulsory purchase.