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Cinema and supermarket in talks over Barons Quay
THE cinema operator and supermarket chain to anchor the Barons Quay scheme will be announced within weeks.
Plans for the long-awaited but controversial regeneration project are pencilled in to go before Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWAC) planners towards the end of March.
“We’ve been out there in the marketplace talking to planners and coming up with deals,” said Noel O’Neill, CWAC’s head of prosperity and regeneration, speaking at Northwich Community Forum on Thursday.
“We’ve got very very close to signing up a food operator and a cinema operator but the deal isn’t signed therefore that’s all I can tell you.
“I don’t want to be secretive but we need to get contracts signed before we announce these things.”
Mr O’Neill also revealed that 10 ‘food and beverage operators’ had expressed interest in coming to Barons Quay.
He explained that CWAC was taking a much more active role in the project than is usual.
“The council is taking a unique stance and is going to act as the developer,” he said.
“Most local authorities get planning and a developer takes over at its own cost and goes away and develops it – and you don’t necessarily get what you agreed to in planning.
“They will find some abnormalities and will chop and chop at the scheme and public realm is usually the thing that goes.”
He said the council was determined to keep control of Barons Quay and make sure all aspects were developed to a high standard.
“Members have been extremely brave in taking this forward – and the council’s into it to the tune of £4.5 million to bring this forward as a developer,” he said.
“We’re not looking for someone else to profiteer but to continue to lead on this.
“The big difference is that the council isn’t motivated by what it has to return to the shareholders but by making sure the public realm is what the community wants and is to the standard of what the community wants.”
• The first phase of public realm improvements in Northwich town centre is almost complete.
Public art work in the form of bollard caps and benches is still to be installed at the newly repaved section of Witton Street from the library to Venables Road.
These items will be fitted once the weather improves.
CWAC is going out to tender for improvement work at St Paul’s Square, by Northwich Art Shop, in March.
The second phase of Witton Street works, from Brunner Square to the Iceland store, will begin once funding is confirmed for the project.
• CWAC has applied for ‘pinch point’ funding from the Government to improve Leicester Street roundabout.
Catherine Fox, Weaver Valley Team leader, said: “The road network is at capacity at the moment so we’re looking to secure pinch point funding from central Government to improve the roundabout.
“This would give us a £5 million boost to do infrastructure and road transport works in and around Northwich.”
• A footbridge over the River Weaver remains an aspiration for the people behind the Barons Quay scheme if there was the funding.
Noel O’Neill, CWAC’s head of prosperity and regeneration, said: “It would be great if we could have a footbridge.
“It’s an aspiration.
“It’s a great idea but costs about £2 million and this scheme can’t afford it.”
• HERITAGE of Northwich will be included in the Barons Quay scheme.
The tops of salt pillars in the filled mines beneath the ground will be worked into the paving so that visitors can see their location and scale.
Statues of Sir John Brunner and Ludwig Mond, Grade II listed monuments which were located outside the research laboratories in Winnington, will also be used in the scheme.
They are likely to be given a new home in one of the scheme’s public squares.