Chester Northgate Newsletter - March 2020

Latest news from the Northgate project team

March 2020

Work begins on an exciting new market and leisure destination in the heart of Chester

After over 20 years of planning, delays and false starts, work begins in March to transform the Northwest of the city centre.

Chester Northgate is not a new shopping centre; instead it will provide a fantastic opportunity to build on the success of Storyhouse and provide a unique mix of leisure facilities including:

  • A new market and foodhall
  • Picturehouse – six screen cinema
  • Cafes, bars and restaurants
  • A new public square
  • Multi-storey car park with over 700 spaces

The development will integrate seamlessly with the surrounding parts of the city and is due to open late 2021. The old library frontage will be transformed into a new arcade and provide a stunning arched entrance into the development (see below), which will also be accessible from Hunter Street and Princess Street.

The scheme will provide a unique opportunity to create a new public square for the city, linking the new market hall, Storyhouse and the Town Hall. So thank you for your patience, please bear with us while we get on with the build.

In the meantime you can view a fly-through of the development and check our progress via our website.

Visit the website

Building new drainage for the city centre

In order to enable new developments such as Northgate, a new 1km drainage tunnel will need to be built, also starting in March, and will have a substantial impact on traffic using the inner ring road. This work will ensure Chester has far greater capacity for the drainage of surface water and will significantly reduce the risk of flooding or drain bursts, and raw sewage outfalls into the River Dee. Taking approximately one year to complete the project will ensure the city can cope with excess rainwater for the benefit of residents and businesses alike.

Environmental benefits

The new drain will result in many future-proof environmental protections and benefits.

We are working with Welsh Water to ensure that the drain meets water industry and environmental standards. The benefits will include:

  • Reducing instances of flooding and drain bursts in the city centre
  • Diverting rainwater away from the sewer network to reduce the volume of water requiring sewage treatment and reduce energy used as a result
  • Maximising the capacity of the existing sewer network
  • Providing a more efficient and sustainable rainwater drainage network for Chester
  • Reducing the risk of raw sewage discharges into the river when the current network is already at capacity.

A new rainwater drain for Chester

The new rainwater drainage tunnel will be a significant investment in the city centre’s future and is a necessary requirement ahead of forthcoming major developments and vastly improved city centre facilities.

The work will regrettably result in some disruption to traffic and to those visiting or working in Chester, but will enable major regeneration of the city centre for the benefit of residents and visitors for years to come. We believe any short-term disruption will be worth it in the long run.

Where will the drainage tunnel go?

It will run from Princess Street south along St. Martin’s Way, Nicholas Street, Grosvenor Road and Castle Drive, and will end with a new outfall into the river, see below.

How will the drain be built?

It will be almost 1km in length, 1.2m in diameter and require access shafts 5.5m wide and 7m deep. Over 85% of the new drain will be installed via tunnelling to minimise disruption above ground, but will require 10 access shafts along the route for the tunnelling equipment to operate between.

How will traffic be managed during the drain works?

Phase One: March – July 2020:
This will be to allow the contractor’s enabling works to be carried out and will impact southbound traffic along St. Martin’s Way and Nicholas Street; requiring lane closures and pavement restrictions, resulting in places where two lanes will be filtered into one; plus some occasional northbound lane closures.

Phase Two: July 2020 – May 2021:
During the full drain construction period, there will be further disruption on St. Martin’s Way and Nicholas Street, including new closures to southbound traffic from the Fountains Roundabout. This is essential to maintain public safety during tunnelling work. Full details of all diversions will be publicised in May.


Work starts on site at Swansea Central

We are proud to announce that construction of Swansea Central has started. Phase 1 of the £1 billion transformation of Swansea city centre is being delivered by Swansea City Council and developed by RivingtonHark.

Due for completion in mid-2021 it will be anchored by the multi-functional arena and conference centre, operated by the global leader in live theatre, The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG). The venue aims to stage 160 performances a year across comedy, theatre, live music and gaming, attracting over 230,000 visitors per year to the city and positioning Swansea as a desirable destination for both leisure and business.

In addition, phase one also includes a green wall, the 1.1-acre coastal park, providing attractive green spaces as well as facilities for outdoor events, a new hotel and 960 new parking spaces. Adjacent to Swansea’s picturesque Marina, the ‘Swansea Central’ scheme will take the next steps to connect the city to the spectacular beach with the help of a statement bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, which combines improved permeability with eye-catching design.

Phase two of the ‘Swansea Central’ transformation is also under-way with an update to the design feasibility being undertaken. It will include further new homes, new office space, retail and leisure along with more public realm improvements.

Spencer Winter, Projects Director of RivingtonHark, said: “More than ever, city centres need local authority intervention in order to thrive, and Swansea is a positive example of what can be achieved with a forward-thinking local council at the helm. ‘Swansea Central’ will not only be a destination for world-class entertainment, but also a new urban neighbourhood for people. It marries uncompromising architecture and design with facilities that will draw people and business into the city, supporting the city’s ambitions to be a leading business and leisure destination.”

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, commented: “The start on site of ‘Swansea Central’ marks a huge step in the major evolution of Swansea. From our spectacular beach and historical landmarks, to our world-leading universities and institutions, Swansea provides a wealth of opportunity that has been undervalued for too long. Alongside the other transformative projects taking place across the city, ‘Swansea Central’ is a missing piece of the jigsaw that will attract more people to the city centre, and greatly strengthen our economic buoyancy. The ‘Swansea Central’ phase one scheme alone is forecast to create over 2,500 new jobs throughout and beyond construction, of which 75 per cent are expected to be filled by local residents. Phase two will also see the creation of a large public sector hub, with the potential to create thousands more jobs in the city centre.”

The wider Swansea City Centre Regeneration Programme will bring further new housing into the city, as well as facilities for learning and business. The Swansea Bay City Deal will also part-fund a new commercial district, featuring a 100,000 sq ft innovation hub with incubation and co-working spaces for small businesses in the tech and creative industries, and a new ‘box village’ and innovation precinct due to be constructed at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David SA1. This will provide world class, flexible and affordable space for start-ups and students, supporting the retention of post-graduates in the city. Upon completion, these projects will collectively generate an additional £6.6 million household spend per year and £297 million GVA into the local economy.

Planning permission for ‘Swansea Central’ phase one was granted in October 2018; main works start onsite on 27 November 2019 with a planned completion of phase one in mid 2021.


Superbowl Opens at Castle Quarter

Approximately 500 people turned out for the VIP opening of Superbowl on 25 September at Castle Quarter, Norwich.

Queues formed down the mall as customers arrived to experience the new 14 lane ten pin bowling venue, a children’s soft play area known as Crazy Club and Sega gaming world. The owners of Superbowl remarked that was their best opening to date and it clearly generated a huge amount of interest and excitement within the City.

This will be Superbowls 11th venue nationwide and they predict that they will attract thousands of visitors to Castle Quarter.  Marketing and events coordinator, George Smith, said: “Superbowl UK Norwich brings our distinctive brand of family entertainment into the city. We will be modernising the customer experience with the latest audio and visual, including projector screens at the end of bowling lanes showing all of our latest offers.”

Robert Bradley, Castle Mall’s general manager, said: “The interest that Superbowl UK is generating is absolutely fantastic. Ever since the hoardings came down, people have been looking through the shutters and we’re expecting loads of people to come in and enjoy the Superbowl UK experience.”

This is an superb addition to Castle Quarter, building upon the success of Vue cinema and Pure Gym to create a true family leisure destination in the heart of Norwich.


New Branding Launched for Norwich Shopping Centre

A new name and brand identity has been launched for Castle Mall in Norwich, the scheme is now Castle Quarter.

The new name and logo replaced Castle Mall and is officially launched to the public this weekend. The name change reflects the transformations currently underway at the scheme, with an increased focus on being a more experiential destination offering food, cinema, a gym and bowling alley.

The new branding will launched by Love Island star, and Norwich local, Sam Bird with a host of free events and activities.

General manager for Castle Quarter, Robert Bradley said: “There will be so much happening: we can’t wait to welcome customers to the new look Castle Quarter. The party will be a great way to celebrate the launch and a fabulous fun event too. We’re really pleased Sam Bird will joining us and meeting plenty of his Norwich fans.”

The fun will include an inflatable Pacman maze, crazy golf, a silent disco, and a giant Tetris, which is a video puzzle game. There will also be a retro gaming challenge with a £500 prize up for grabs, a chance to win a £250 prize in the day out planner competition and a ‘Ballnado challenge’ – a twist on the popular Grab-A-Grand Cash Cube concept – with a £100 prize for the winner who collects the most balls.


Chester Northgate Approved

Cheshire West & Chester Council has approved the first phase of the Chester Northgate mixed-use project. The £60m project, which is being development managed by RivingtonHark – the recent merger of RivingtonLand and The Hark Group – was recently progressed by the council along with a £16m public service centre and bus hub in Ellesmere Port.

The scheme secured unanimous backing from the council’s planning committee, paving the way for works to commence in the coming months, and is set to feature a new market, cinema, a multi-storey car park, and leisure offering. The tenants already signed up are Zizzi’s, Cosy Club, Tapas Revolution, and cinema operator Picturehouse.

Enabling works will begin in October with Vinci starting in earnest in January 2020.

Richard Beacham, Cheshire West & Chester’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth said: “Planning approval for the first phase of the Northgate development is a welcome milestone in a long and complex journey towards building a brand-new leisure destination in the heart of Chester.

“This is long-awaited and much needed investment in this part of our city centre and it will have a positive impact for residents, local businesses and the local economy with the creation of new jobs and new work for local suppliers.”


New Investment Analyst Joins RivingtonHark

Following the merger of The Hark Group and Rivington Land to form RivingtonHark, the company welcomes new skills to the business.

The RivingtonHark team welcomes Sinthujon Murugavarothayan as Investment Analyst.

Sinthujon recently graduated from Queen Mary University of London with a BSc in Economics and Finance, and has also completed a Masters in Real Estate Investment via an academic scholarship at CASS business school.


Swansea Central

Enabling works begin at Swansea Central

Enabling works have begun on-site at Swansea Central, a core element of the transformation of Swansea city centre.

Swansea Central is a core element of the transformation of Swansea city centre. Phase 1 is seen as a major catalyst for future development and is centred on a new iconic, digitally advanced live entertainment venue and conference centre that can accommodate up to 3,500 people and stage major international travelling productions.


RivingtonHark appointed to Shopping City, Runcorn

RivingtonHark appointed by receivers, Savills, to asset and development manage the 50,000 sq m shopping centre in Runcorn.

Working closely with ICG Longbow and the council we are looking to reposition this significant asset into a mixed use retail, lifestyle and wellness centre that serves its loyal catchment.


Mill Gate Launches New Concept to Make Retail Space More Accessible

On Wednesday 15th May, Mill Gate Shopping centre launched a new initiative called OPEN, with a drop-in session designed to break down the often daunting barriers to taking your first retail space.

The first ever OPEN drop in session took place in the shopping centre with experts on hand to answer questions on how to get into the retail market without any of the jargon or confusion that can often come with leasing retail space. Visitors were also given a real insight into everyday life at Mill Gate by having the chance to talk with established businesses that started in the centre. One such retailer was Carol Jolly of Perfect fit who came to the centre with a dream of opening a bra shop with a personal fitting service and has now been in the centre 10 years. Mill Gate Shopping Centre Manager Marie Gribben along with Lisa Smith of PinPointer were on hand to answer any questions that attendees had and to explain the opportunities available at the centre. Marie commented,

“The centre has been at the heart of the Bury community for almost three decades and it is so important that local businesses looking for an opportunity to reach more customers understand that Mill Gate is the perfect place to do just that.” “By launching OPEN we hope to create a space where people who might be worried about what can be a daunting letting process can come and ask the questions they have and get honest straight forward advice”

As well as the drop-in sessions, Mill Gate has also created some simple FAQs that give straight forward answers to the most common questions that come up when someone is looking to lease a new space. The section includes questions on business rates, leasing charges and what can be sold at the centre. PinPointer‘s Lisa Smith, said: “This is a really positive step in making retail spaces more accessible to all businesses. The Mill Gate is ahead of the curve by hosting the OPEN project providing a simple and supportive approach to the leasing process. The initiative really carries on the great entrepreneurial tradition of Bury, looking at using spaces in new ways. So, whether it’s for offices, dentists, estates agents, homeware or microbreweries or the more conventional retail offerings, the Mill Gate has the space for your business.

The OPEN unit will be open on the first Monday of each month, you can pop in or make an appointment to view potential units with the centre management and PinPointer team offering that personal insight and support through the leasing process


RivingtonHark

Hark Group acquires Rivington Land

Hark Group, one of the UK’s leading retail asset managers with a focus on transforming town and city centres, announces the acquisition of Rivington Land, the development management business that specialises in complex urban environments.

The new enlarged company will be named RivingtonHark and will immediately become one of the most active and experienced teams focused on delivering the rejuvenation of UK town centres through specialist development and asset management, at the outset managing projects with a value in excess of £700 million.

Hark Group, one of the UK’s leading retail asset managers with a focus on transforming town and city centres, announces the acquisition of Rivington Land, the development management business that specialises in complex urban environments. The new enlarged company will be named RivingtonHark and will immediately become one of the most active and experienced teams focused on delivering the rejuvenation of UK town centres through specialist development and asset management, at the outset managing projects with a value in excess of £700 million.

Working alongside local authorities, pension funds and private equity investors, RivingtonHark will invest in mixed use projects to create vibrant and sustainable places where people will want to work, live and play.

RivingtonHark is already working on major projects including Swansea, Liverpool, Chester, Norwich, Newcastle, Lincoln and Bury, all of which involve the repurposing and repositioning of retail to varying degrees and incorporate a wide range of new uses including a new arena and conference centre, residential accommodation, offices, public realm and leisure uses.

David Lewis, founder of Rivington Land, joins Mark Williams and David Henderson-Williams as Board Director and co-owner of the business. David Lewis will continue to focus on development, Mark Williams will lead the investment side and David Henderson-Williams will run the asset management team.

David Lewis commented, “Both companies are passionate about town centres and share an optimism about their future in this evolutionary market. There are very few businesses in the UK that can match our level of expertise and enthusiasm for delivering meaningful change. Combining forces is the right way to grow the company and position ourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

David Henderson-Williams, founder of Hark Group remarked, “The two firms are highly complementary in terms of personnel, skills and corporate relationships.  The combination of our abilities to invest, our proven asset management track records and Rivington’s exceptional development management capabilities, points towards a very exciting future.”

Mark Williams, Director of Hark and former president of Revo said, “I have known David Lewis professionally for over 15 years since his time at Centros Miller and have great respect for his career achievements including establishing Rivington as a significant development management business. I am very much looking forward to working with David and his vastly experienced team to grow our business together. I think that everyone accepts that investing in retail means you must have the ability and imagination to transform places, which we now have it in abundance. We have recently strategically teamed up with new investment partners and the combined resources will allow us to significantly add to our already diverse portfolio of high profile projects.”