Barons Quay master plan decision day

The long-awaited Barons Quay development which promises to create 1,400 jobs for the Northwich area goes before Cheshire West and Chester’s strategic planning committee for approval on Thursday 21st March 2013.

A multi-screen cinema, major food store, shops, cafes, restaurant, hotel and extra car parking are the major features of the project which is designed to take full advantage of the river frontage while creating strong links with the traditional shopping areas.

A report to be considered by the strategic planning committee says that despite a change in economic circumstances since the scheme was originally adopted it remains deliverable and that there is active interest from within the retail and leisure sectors.

An impact study commissioned by Cheshire West reported the Barons Quay area development would not have an adverse effect on the performance of the town centre but would help reverse a trend of people shopping elsewhere.

The regenerative benefits to Northwich were spelled out in the report, which tells councillors: “The redevelopment of this site will bring major benefits to the town, not only visually, bringing back into use this much underused and run down part of the town centre, but providing space for the town to grow economically, creating opportunities for shopping and leisure and greater access to the much underutilised river frontage.”

Noting that the design of the scheme had generated most interest from the public, the report said that it would reflect the industrial heritage and timber framed black and white buildings which are characteristic of Northwich.

The most prominent building will be the multi-screen cinema which has been designed to be a striking landmark feature introducing contemporary architecture into the town. Unlike most modern cinemas that are windowless structures, the Northwich waterfront cinema will have vertical glazing and black reflective bricks which the report says will add vibrancy to the town especially at night.

Places Matter! – an organisation devoted to generating a strong sense of place in living, working and leisure environments throughout the North West were invited to review the proposals and commented that it was entirely appropriate for the site.

The proposal included the provision of 1,159 car parking spaces and parking for 278 cycles to replace the current 794 spaces on the site.

Any significant development of Northwich town centre has been delayed for decades because of subsidence fears which were dealt with by a £32m project completed in 2007 to fill in abandoned salt mines beneath the town centre.

Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, who represents a Northwich ward, 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.”

The 8.26 acre site is bounded by the Weaver Navigation, Witton Street / High Street and Matalan and Sainsbury’s stores.