An historic Cheshire town centre is to be transformed by an £80m scheme creating 1,400 jobs and ending decades of delay caused by salt mining subsidence.
The riverside Barons Quay development in Northwich will give the town a multi screen cinema, major food store, hotel, restaurants, bars, shops, petrol station and additional free car parking.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Strategic Planning Committee last night (21st March 2013) unanimously approved the scheme which takes full advantage of the river frontage while creating strong links to the traditional shopping areas.
It is hoped that work will begin on site by autumn 2014 and be completed by the end of 2016.
Northwich has been at the centre of Britain’s salt industry since Roman times but the legacy of unstable mines beneath the town centre prevented any significant growth in the past 30 years.
A £32 million programme completed in 2007 stabilised the abandoned mines by replacing millions of litres of brine from the mines with a mixture of pulverised fuel ash and cement and clearing the way for development.
An impact study commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester predicts the 8.26 hectare Barons Quay development will reverse a trend of people shopping elsewhere.
Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, commented: “We have had to wait a long time to be able to bring forward a major development plan for the town centre. The Barons Quay development will create jobs and prosperity for the area and is a significant part of an overall scheme to improve the lifestyle and prospects of our residents.
“The proposals are designed to enhance the existing businesses, not to damage them, with the new development embracing the river frontage and integrating with the traditional shopping areas.”
Davenham and Moulton Councillor Gaynor Sinar told the meeting: “The Barons Quay development will quite literally turn Northwich around.
“It will no longer turn its back on our beautiful rivers, walk ways and cycle paths. It will bring a much longed for evening economy.
“As a local retailer of 10 years and the founder of Northwich Independent Retailers Association the promise of this development is keeping me and several other businesses going in the hope of better days.”
Winnington and Castle Councillor Amy Mercer-Bailey told the committee: “Northwich I have heard many times be described as the ‘hidden gem of Cheshire’ and this development and the others in the pipeline are the start of making Northwich town less hidden, more attractive for people to visit and more viable in the future.
“For a long time now Northwich has needed some positive developments to help drag it into the 21st century and appealing for visitors to the area. I firmly believe that the Barons Quay development is the start of something exciting that has the potential to make the town great again.”
Matt Brook, Director at architecture, planning and design practice Broadway Malyan, said: “The planning green light is a major milestone in the creation of a unique visitor destination that capitalises on Northwich’s waterfront and parkland setting and references Northwich’s industrial heritage as a fully integrated extension to the town centre.
“It is testament to our close partnering with Cheshire West and Chester Council and the wider project team and will result in the delivery of a series of simple elegant buildings, providing a backdrop to a significant quantity of new public realm, including three new major public spaces connected by a series of new retail streets.”