Inside Chester Northgate

Retail Destination looks at the new development set to open in Chester later in Autumn 2022

Chester Northgate is set to be the most significant development in Chester for decades. The new destination, developed by Cheshire West and Chester Council, has been designed with the aim of transforming the city’s historic core, supporting the whole city to thrive by creating jobs, increasing tourism, and driving economic growth in the city’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new scheme has its sights set on being more than just a new shopping centre. Upon completion, it will become a new a new market and leisure destination in the heart of Chester, combining open streets, parades and plazas that integrate with the surrounding parts of the city and build on the success of the adjacent Storyhouse cultural centre.

Set to open in autumn 2022, the Chester Northgate scheme will include an arched arcade from the former library frontage into a new public square, an indoor market hall relocated from the forum, a six screen cinema, cafes and restaurants, co-working office spaces and a multi-storey car park which will replace the existing car park once the development is completed.

In developing the Northgate Phase 1 scheme, the Council consulted widely and received over 1,000 comments many of which were in relation to the market, environmental and sustainability issues, alongside ecology and archaeological considerations.

As a result, the site has been designed to be easily accessible both via public transport and on foot, and its green provisions are being implemented throughout. Four new trees will be included in the central new public square which will also feature 750 square metres of green walls incorporated to the carpark, cinema, market and Princess Street frontages which combined will capture over 980kg of carbon annually – the equivalent of planting 38 trees.

The scheme also includes major investment in a new city centre rainwater drain which will reduce flooding and sewage outfalls into the River Dee, as well as reducing energy in treating non-foul water. There will also be substantial provision for cycle parking, and the car park will benefit from extensive electric vehicle charging facilities, providing a safer and accessible facility than the current Market car park whilst making use of sustainable materials.

Cheshire West Councillor Richard Beacham, cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth, says the Chester Northgate development will breathe new life into the city, taking old inefficient buildings like the market and replacing them with something that is fit for purpose, both for traders and for customers. “Supporting local business and creating new spaces for people to come together, spend time and learn new things in the post-Covid world is exactly what Northgate is all about,” he says.

“Town centres are in the midst of big change and Covid-19 has accelerated this process. If we want to support the city centre by attracting more visitors, if we want more people to be living in the city, if we want to give Storyhouse the setting that it deserves and if we love the market and want it to become an even bigger part of what it means to be in Chester, then Northgate is the future for all of these things.”

On the market

Cheshire West and Chester Council recently revealed the first allocation of twenty-two stalls that have been contracted or are under offer to trade in the new Market when it opens in October at the heart of the Chester Northgate development, with a further six traders, including other current and new market traders still in the process of concluding their leases.

Fifteen of the stalls being announced in the first round will be relocating from the existing market, including Bookingham Palace, NiceBites, Vinyl Ritchie, MRKT Café, Jap Tech, Geoff Hughes Family Butchers, Purely Pots, Thai by Thai, The Sandbar, My Trophy Dog, Pastry Pedaleur, and Guroma; with some traders taking more than one stall.

Bookingham Palace and Vinyl Ritchie are two longstanding and well-loved stalls within the existing market run by Richard Newton for the past six years who says he ‘can’t wait for it to open’. Jap Tech owner Munawar Hussain says he was thrilled to be moving his established phone and gadget repair stall over to the new market, and Stephanie Peters, who opened Pastry Pedaleur in the current market only last year, has already built up a reputation for her French inspired handcrafted gourmet pastries and desserts, and says she is excited to have been offered a place at the new market.

Geoff Hughes, who has worked in Chester Market since he was 14 years old, later setting up Geoff Hughes Family Butchers in 1996, together with his wife of 39 years, Debbie, says they are delighted to be able to make the move to the new building: “As Chester Market begins a brand new chapter in what I believe to be a very proud history; we look forward to welcoming all our current customers and gaining new ones when we open.”

Seven stalls will be opened by traders new to the market, all small independent businesses, including a new central and satellite bar operated by iKO Ventures, pizza specialist The Mercato Pizza Company, Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, coffee bar Bean & Cole, cheese-based street food Cheesy Bandits and opticians Pop Specs. The Council is still seeking tenants for the new market’s remaining stalls and as further leases are completed, more trader details will be announced.

“There is a great deal of interest in Chester’s new Market, so I am delighted that we are now in a position to make our first announcement about traders – they represent a fantastic mix of both current traders and new expertise,” says Cllr Beacham. “The vision for the new market has always been to create a modern traditional market, a stunning new home for local independent businesses and creative entrepreneurs.

“Many of the existing traders will be making the transition to the new market and selling familiar local produce, a great range of goods and services, and the high-quality food and drink that we have all come to enjoy, all built around new and unique communal spaces right in the heart of our city.”

Barker Proudlove, a regional retail and leisure property consultancy firm, advised the council through this process and secured a number of tenants both for the market and externally. Tom Prescott, director at Barker Proudlove added: “Barker Proudlove are thrilled to be involved with such an important project for Chester city centre. When complete and open, we are confident that the businesses we have attracted and secured will thrive in this fantastic environment the council have worked so hard to create.”

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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