As a member of Transition Chester looking to a zero carbon future we hope you will email your local Councillors to ask them to press pause on the Chester Northgate scheme and develop something more in keeping with the Climate Emergency which they declared last year.
In brief the plan is to build a 782 space car park, a six screen cinema, new restaurants, offices and retail as well as a new market on the space behind the old library in Chester where the bus station used to be.
The approved budget is £70 million. The context of the development is ever changing and now has many risks which they did not previously consider:.
1) Climate Change and the crisis of air quality – most cities are looking at ways to get cars out of the city centre
2) Coronavirus – is it wise to create a development based around leisure, cinema, and restaurants when we may have further waves of pandemics as Covid-19 mutates and other viral threats emerge. All of these business depend on social proximity to survive and make profits.
3) Brexit – Cheap food from the EU will soon be a thing of the past. Restaurant and supermarket prices will rise.
Already over 40% of Cheshire restaurants and pubs say they may not open after the lockdown, direct streaming and social distancing is threatening the future of cinema and there are scores of empty premises in Chester city centre.
Even though they have declared a Climate Emergency, the Council have not done a carbon impact assessment of the scheme. At a recent Council meeting both the main parties voted in favour, but there are individual Councillors who don’t like it.
COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to persuade the Councillors that the finances of the scheme are now too risky to go ahead. COVID-19 has shown us a better way is possible, with quiet roads and clean air.
There are ideas for an alternative eco-friendly type of tourist attraction which would be better for people’s health and well-being and contribute to a vibrant local economy.
- A spectacular cherry orchard with blossom festivals in the Spring,
- A city forest – Chester Oaks maybe, a maze or a walled garden. It would link in with and develop on the Super Trees project which Transition Chester has supported and they are so proud of.
The planned development is a bland scheme like any other in the country. Chester has a chance to do something unique and original on this prime site in the city centre with a wonderful view of the Welsh hills and beautiful sunsets. There are many other possible better alternatives but the main thing is to halt the current plan and #RethinkNorthgate.
We ask you to email your local Councillor and ask them to stop and rethink the plans for Northgate. Use your own words. You can say things are changing, the finances of the scheme are too risky now. They need to act like it’s an emergency. We need to repurpose the city for the people.
You can find your local Councillors’ contact details on the Cheshire West and Chester website.
> For more information, to register your support or to sign up for actions with on this campaign please contact Rethinknorthgate@gmail.com
> follow Rethink Northgate @RethinkNorthgate on Facebook and
> #RethinkNorthgate on Twitter.
> Cheshire Live has a series of articles about the scheme