A SPECIAL speakers meeting on Monday saw a number of Northwich topics discussed, including Barons Quay, flood defences, HS2 and an update on Waitrose's first six months in town.
The Rotary Club of Northwich organised the meeting, which took place at Winnington Recreation Club, in Park Road.
LANDMARK STEPS FOR REGENERATION
BIG steps are being taken in plans to regenerate Northwich and protect it from future flood.
Finances are in place for the ambitious Barons Quay project and builders for the work will be announced in July, while a flood defence scheme has also been drawn up and the search for a contractor has started.
Noel O’Neill, from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC), and David Brown, from the Environment Agency, gave updates about the two projects at the Rotary Club of Northwich special speakers meeting on Monday.
Noel said: “The council has now put in place the funding with which to deliver the Barons Quay scheme, which is a major tick and a big step forward.
“The second thing is to get a build contractor on site to build it and we’re in the throes of just finalising the selection process now we’ve been through a big tender process.”
He said the contractor will be announced at the council’s executive meeting on July 16.
CWAC has also been going through the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process to acquire the eight per cent of land for the Barons Quay scheme that it does not already own.
There have been eight objections during this process, which Noel said CWAC hopes to ‘negotiate away’ before the September 23 inquiry date.
The first phase of the multi-million pound scheme will see a five-screen Odeon cinema and Asda supermarket being built at Barons Quay, alongside other retail units, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Noel said: “As someone who has been involved in this scheme for such a long time it really is really pleasurable for me to stand up here and say ‘this is happening’.
“We’ve said this before but now planning consent is there, finances are there, contractors are nearly there and tenants are there.”
David Brown, from the Environment Agency, praised riverside schemes but said it had made planning town centre flood defences more difficult.
“We’ve got these fantastic developments around Waitrose and plans further down with Barons Quay and my challenge is to deliver a scheme that doesn’t compromise these features,” he said.
The Environment Agency has put a scheme together using different types of linear defences alongside the River Dane and River Weaver.
This will be submitted to the planning department in September and work is expected to start in January 2015.
IS HS2 A CATALYST FOR CHANGE?
A HIGH speed train line set to cut through the mid Cheshire countryside is a catalyst for change, according to a delegation of HS2 representatives speaking in Northwich.
Raj Chandarana, Brendan Gallagher and Charlotte Bowen, from HS2’s community and stakeholder engagement team, explained the £42.9 billion scheme at Monday’s Rotary Club of Northwich special speakers meeting.
Following initial consultation with residents earlier in the year, the trio acknowledged there were challenges in Cheshire, including the location of stations, noise concerns, building in an area of brine fields and gas plants, the impact on ancient woodland and the impact on agricultural land.
But they argued that the benefits were great.
Raj said: “It needs to maximise the value of both the local and national economies, which is going back to the constant theme that it’s not just about London and needs to demonstrate that it’s not just about London.
“It needs to be a catalyst for change both nationally and locally.
“We need to create infrastructure that will allow us to rebalance the economy.”
The finalised route of the controversial line is expected to be announced at the end of the year.
Once it is finalised, details of compensation packages will be revealed.
IN its first six months of business, Northwich’s newest supermarket has helped 21 good causes.
WAITROSE LOOKS FOR MORE GOOD CAUSES
Peter Gibbs, manager of Waitrose, spoke about the store’s first six months in town at the Rotary Club of Northwich special speakers meeting.
He said the Northwich branch scores highly with its customer feedback and shoppers are impressed with the overall regeneration of Hayhurst Quay.
He also appealed for people to nominate more good causes in need of help.
“We’ve been able to help 21 good causes already through our Community Matters scheme and we’re looking for more nominations – if you can think of good causes we haven’t supported yet then get your nominations in.”
He added: “We’ve established ourselves in the town and had a very enjoyable six months.”