7 people turned up at the Palatine room at the town hall on the 8th June for talk on improvements to the public realm in Chester on.. I’m told 24 people turned up to the earlier session…
Dave Anderson, programme manager for the Northgate development explained about the changes to come: the movement of the bus station will free up Princes St to build the long delayed Northgate development… a new cinema/market may or may not be built on the old site. The new bus station will cost 15 million pounds, with 13.5 coming from local growth funding and the rest from CWAC…
In addition to this there will be “public realm improvements” to the surrounding area, Frodsham St, George St, Brookdale place etc. The movement of the bus station is designed to create a “new heart” for the city and the dramatically titled “brook st corridor” will become more strategic and significant (they say) … Brook St will see a lot more footfall to the city once the Business quarter develops (see https://shitchester.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/theres-loads-going-on-but-it-takes-a-bit-of-time-a-personal-view-of-the-one-city-engagement-session/ )
IBI (http://www.ibigroup.com/) are the company appointed to develop the public realm. A lot of work has already been done, with the new medical centre/car park and work on the “world class” bus station soon to begin(including cafe and newsagents) including the demolition of the Ship Victory. Brookdale place (in front of mecca bingo) will be developed at the same time to make it more cycle/pedestrian friendly.
Frodsham st looks to be getting a facelift. Often criticised for its proliferation of charity shops and bookmakers, the plans sound interesting. The officers explained that the changes are based on similar schemes in Poynton, Oxford and Preston- which have all improved the streets in question by reducing clutter and improving access to pedestrians, but not limiting traffic access . This is represented by a slightly confusing visual showing Lowry like figures looking like they are about to be run over by a bus and people having a coffee “in the road”
Traffic data was presented which showed 180 vehicles an hour travel down Frodsham st… 60 of these being buses. This is very low for an urban street, and at no time do average speeds exceed 15mph. Traffic flows naturally slowly due to the nature of the street, but on a very narrow street with the path being less than a metre wide at some points. A few options were discussed including narrowing the carriageway, or changing to flush curbs(ie all on one level).. The street would become a “shared space”… an idea that seemed puzzling from a safety point of view, who would have right of way? It was stressed that the plan is not to pedestrianise the street but to improve the look/access. Cwac held a workshop last March for officers to decide how “shared” the space should be. The plans include a pedestrian safe zone (ie pavement) ..” a linear strip of tactile paving” so that the street appears to be pedestrianised… but isnt. Street furniture will be introduced, leaving a central section for vehicles… with the dream being the creation of a more bustling space to make people linger on the street for longer instead of just passing through. The implications for blind and partially sighted people were mentioned and the success of similar schemes were used as evidence of safety. The aspiration is for Frodsham street to be paved in sandstone and granite, and for access to the car park to be changed- so that cars enter via Iceland instead of at Poundland, thus making the street one way… This scheme will take 7-9 months to complete and cost 2 million.
Another idea is to create a small park on george st, opposite the new medical centre, the grassy area fenced off overlooking the canal/walls. As part of the linked waterways strategy, cwac aim to open up views/access to the canal.. A viewing platform would be created similar to the one recently erected during refurbishments of King Charles’s tower, with a wildflower garden also introduced. This is a great idea opening up an area with currently no accessibility.
Construction of the bus station starts in October and will be open in early 2017….welcome to the brave new world