It’s really easy to see vacant property and get downhearted. All City centres have suffered from Covid 19, Decreased customers, the incremental use of internet retailing platforms, and rising power and food costs.
Yes- The former Debenhams and BHS lie empty, The Grosvenor Centre (currently for sale) is a shell of its former self, and prime shops are hard to find tenants for.but its not all doom and gloom.
Look a little closer and you’ll see green shoots everywhere, OK these tend to be in the more affordable areas, but the collective firepower of these demonstrates that Chester is definitely gravitating back to a truly unique offering.
Only a few years ago the criticism of Chester was that it was ‘samey’ – the shops were all mainstream brands, well some of those brands are still around, but increasingly we are seeing agile businesses pop up in unexpected units, as rentals fall to an affordable level.
And hang on.. what’s that coming over the hill? Hoorah, it’s the cavalry!!
Northgate Phase 1 opens in September- delivering an 800 space park park, a new market (with extended opening hours) a new Picturehouse Multi-screen Cinema, a number of largely hospitality led new names to the City and an open Square that will form the new Hub for outdoor activities.
Look a little further – Wildes Hotels are developing a £ multi million boutique Hotel at the Cross with an aspirational Michelin * restaurant spearheaded by an award-winning chef, whilst local Hospitality entrepreneurs are opening Boheme, a French styled Restaurant/Bar opposite.
AND.. we have a number of hotel planning applications in progress, with residential schemes coming along behind them.
And the Council? – Well it’s easy to criticise, but let’s not forget that they are delivering Northgate.At last it has been recognised that ‘one size fits all’ strategies don’t work in such unique environments as Chester, and that local professionals have something meaningful to contribute to the debate The ‘One City Plan’ strategy document will be reviewed later this year, and with closer involvement and working, we should have a bespoke, agile and deliverable plan for Chester. Then we just need to make it happen!CAPP article
Come back and see us again soon – you’ll notice the changes!
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