Annual Report

Grow our local economy and deliver good jobs with fair wages

High Streets Commission

In 2020 we agreed to revisit the work of the Towns and City Group, which met during 2014 to discuss the shifts in consumer behaviour on retail and the future of high streets in our borough.

The group will develop and practical recommendations so that the Council and local partners can play their part in the economic recovery of our high streets.

Future High Streets Fund Winsford

In December 2020, Cheshire West and Chester Council welcomed a £9.98 million investment from the Future High Streets Fund, to support its ambitious plans for Winsford. The investment came as a direct result of the Council having already invested significantly in the project (worth £37million in total).

The plans create new jobs and business opportunities, better transport links, a better environment for independent retailers, improved opportunities for community meeting spaces and public services such as libraries and healthcare.

Northgate phase 1 commitment and construction

After over 20 years of planning, work started in July 2020 to transform Northgate, in the north west of Chester city centre. The £70 million development, due to open in 2022, will build on the success of Storyhouse and complement the existing businesses on Northgate Street.

Work has also begun on a new surface water drainage tunnel through the city centre which will create a future-proof drain for Northgate and future developments in the city centre.

Chester Northgate

Heritage Action Zone Chester and progress on Chester Walls

In September 2019, Chester was chosen as one of 69 UK towns and cities to receive a £95m Government funding boost that is set to breathe new life into historic areas and help high streets adapt to changing consumer habits.

Funding will be used for essential repair works in historic buildings and giving training opportunities to residents and businesses and try to address the UK-wide skills shortage of heritage professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry.

As part of the investment, education projects and bespoke events with residents will also be developed including film and creative writing, a spoken word project with people who had formerly slept rough delivered in partnership with Forfutures (an organisation which supports those at risk of homelessness) and a photography project with Chester Pride and the LGBTQ+ community.

In December 2020, a new walkway opened to allow shoppers, residents and visitors to move around the area of Chester Walls that collapsed in January.

Ellesmere Port Hub construction

February 2020 saw the completion of the Ellesmere Port Bus Interchange and start of work on the Ellesmere Port Hub. The new hub provides the most cost-effective solution to the provision of Council and partner services in the town, when compared with the alternative of refurbishing Civic Way offices which will be demolished as part of the wider masterplan proposals. This space will then be made available for new housing for families and young professionals to live in the town.

Vital funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and Capital Kickstart allowed Action Transport Theatre Company, (based at Council-owned Whitby Hall in Ellesmere Port) to overcome some of the huge challenges presented by the pandemic. Future years will see a transformational capital programme thanks to investment made by the Council and Arts Council England.

Northwich - Weaver Square and open space

In February 2021 work began on a temporary green space in Northwich town centre on land that previously housed the outdoor market in Weaver Square whilst the Council continued to work with residents on the masterplan for Weaver Square. The space will add another dimension to the town centre, in terms of delivering events and creating a focal point for socialising.

Mersey Dee Alliance growth bid

A £400m cross-border fiscal stimulus package was submitted to and well received by the English and Welsh Governments, with our increasingly influential Mersey Dee Alliance partnership continuing to successfully advocate for strategic economic growth across the subregion.

Growth Track 360 is a public-private partnership established in 2016 uniting North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester. Its goal is improving cross-border transport connectivity with specific emphasis on rail. It is calling for £20 million of seedcorn funding with which to accelerate progress on three key schemes to improve rail connectivity in the cross border economic powerhouse of the Mersey-Dee and North Wales.

Brexit support to businesses

The Council established a cross-party policy commission to understand better and plan for the potential implications for the Council and the borough regarding the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

Regular discussions are ongoing with large businesses operating locally, such as Vauxhall and Airbus, and officers from the Council’s Business Growth team have provided practical support to businesses of all sizes. This has included Brexit readiness events, considering Brexit implications and opportunities (including potential new markets), follow-up one-to-ones with those who reported a need for immediate additional support, and a range of other support packages.