I am sure that many Chester residents will, like me, have welcomed the news that the Clockwise scheme will start to be relaxed next month and fully lifted in the New Year.
But we mustn’t forget that the works were necessary to remove surface water from the city sewerage system and reduce the likelihood of raw sewage having to enter the River Dee during heavy rain in the future.
It’s great to see the construction work at Northgate surging ahead after so many years of doubt and delay. It will expand Chester’s leisure and cultural quarter with a new public square, restaurants, office space, small cinema and new market hall.
We all know these are tough times for Britain’s town centres, especially as online shopping increases. But in Chester footfall remains high and thanks to the work of Marketing Cheshire, the Zoo, local businesses, the Council, the BID and others – Chester became the staycation capital of the UK this summer. In partnership with Storyhouse, the city is also being enlivened with cultural and art installations in the coming months.
The High Street Action Zone project is delivering improvements to the rows to protect them and re-define them as a place to explore art, culture and independent shops, to make it a new home for other types of micro businesses, and to increase residential use in underused space above ground and row level.
Work is proceeding on Dee House by the Amphitheatre. Yes, it’s an eyesore now but after great work by Andy Foster, stabilisation work is commencing and a development partner being identified to deliver a better visitor experience for the amphitheatre and a sustainable use for Dee House itself.
I am also supporting local environmental campaigner Dr Niall McFadyen and the council on a feasibility study to bring back the old hydro plant on the Dee Bridge as a sustainability centre, learning about energy from the past, present and the future.
The council and I have submitted a bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund to redevelop the area by the station and the Queen Hotel with a new archives and research centre for Cheshire and commercial office space in City Place.
And with the Chester Growth Partnership we are looking at how to bring the Browns of Chester building back into use as the centrepiece of the city centre.
With a depressed economy and more people working at home, times are tough for town centres everywhere. Yet I want Cestrians to be proud of our award-winning city. If we pull together, the future is bright.