In the Media: Property Week talks to Andy Williams about the Chester Growth Partnership
Right place, right time
"The CGP stands an excellent chance of being the catalyst to
Chester's renaissance. The city fallen behind the regional
competition and it is in danger of becoming a backwater. Take
retail for example; Liverpool One, Cheshire Oaks, Manchester and
the Trafford Centre, are all within an hour's drive, Chester simply
doesn't compete at the moment.
"However, the city has so much potential, and there is clearly
the will to make this change happen. There have been various plans
on the drawing board for more than 25 years but these have been
beset by stumbling blocks. Now, the pieces are in place and we
finally have a comprehensive strategy and a very clear way forward.
The business community is behind the One City Plan, the city
council and Grosvenor are on board, and the Growth Partnership's
experienced team of regeneration experts are taking a much broader
view than ever before.
"By appealing to the national and international
investment market, the Growth Prospectus has the opportunity to
bring in new funding which, if successful, will shore up future
developments currently in the pipeline and perhaps bring forward
the timelines, which would be welcomed by all of us who live and
work in the city.
"For the funds, investors and developers, Chester offers an
excellent opportunity. As a city 'on the up' there are clearly
gains to be made. Crucially, the Growth Prospectus isn't asking
anyone to take a risk on being the first to put in the cash.
Millions have already poured into the city and Muse Developments
has kick started the regeneration with One City Place, creating a
sense of confidence and excitement with those of us who have seen
too many 'plans' fail to come to fruition.
"Investors can look at what has already been achieved and be
reassured that not only are the institutions of the city behind the
redevelopment, but that an extensive strategy is in place for its
delivery. What's needed now is simply the investment to bring
schemes forward which, when viewed as a whole, will equate to more
than the sum of their parts.
"Hopefully the upward trajectory will be complemented by
improvements in infrastructure, particularly the roads in to the
city and car parking around the centre. We need the new homes and
the job prospects which will keep our young people and graduates in
the city, all of which go hand-in-hand with the commercial
developments being promoted.
"Chester has a great foundation, it is a
beautiful and well connected town, brilliantly located for the
North West and London, and has enviable assets in terms of its
Roman heritage, medieval and Victorian buildings, visitor
attractions and top class University. The plan for the future is
sound, and we now have the team in place with the best chance of
making it happen. The Growth Prospectus talks about thinking big,
and that's exactly what is needed to give the city centre the
overhaul it needs and give Chester back its dignity."
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