Chester BID sees ‘huge opportunities for the city despite recent setbacks’ and celebrates both the imminent Northgate Development and increased private investment.
In reaction to much talk about the failing high street from the COVID-19 fallout and despite the losses Chester faces with closures from many national brands, including the city’s beloved Browns, Chester BID predicts the city has as ‘exciting a future as it ever did’ with ‘seismic and positive changes ahead’.
Carl Critchlow, BID Manager said: ‘Much of the conversation during COVID-19 has speculated gloomily and understandably on what is happening to some of our bigger retails brands, and on a national scale we are seeing devastating closures of high street stalwarts and many job losses, most recently from the likes of Arcadia and Debenhams.
However, we now need to change the conversation – the high street is evolving fast, not crumbling, and city centres are definitely about to be transformed – this has been accelerated by COVID-19 but, in reality, has been happening for years.
Chester is a wonderful heritage city which promises a high quality lifestyle. It is also in the fortunate position that it has a hugely determined local authority willing to make brave investments like the long-awaited Northgate development, where others may have been reluctant in this climate. It is the investment that we now need to help us navigate the seismic changes ahead that will affect the way people work, live and shop in the city.
In 2020 we saw more businesses open in the city centre than close – and what was really interesting was that we saw almost 80 percent of those openings come from independent, local businesses – local entrepreneurs and people with confidence and vision willing to drive our city forward.’
In January 2021, Chester BID produced an Independent Business Guide as ‘How to start an independent business in Chester’ on the back of the unprecedented numbers of independent businesses looking to open in Chester.
More recently Chester was named as Britain’s 20th best performing retail centre out of a list of 1,000 compiled by retail property consultancy, Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH).
Chester BID Chair, Katrina Kerr said: ‘Chester will change for the better – despite the challenges we face, we have all the assets in place to compete with some of the most successful European cities.
The Northgate investment will cement this – bringing a much-missed leisure offering to the city in the form of the cinema, as well as more opportunities for hospitality, retail and a huge outdoor event and leisure space. It will fill a void that completes any expectation of city life – complement the city’s existing businesses, generate additional footfall across the weekdays and stimulate the night-time economy. State-of-the-art car parking will push the city’s green agenda offering charging points that city residents can leave their cars in overnight.
Private inward investment continues to flourish, with at least two new hotels on the immediate horizon and we will see local entrepreneurship soar. Chester has always been renowned for its dining scene, currently leading North West cities with its Michelin offering – and the new market will cement that future with an additional casual dining offering for day-to-day eats.
There is of course a real need for more residential in the city centre to support this new city retail community and as a BID we will be very keen to push this agenda through – as well as offer support and guidance for all our new businesses.’
To learn more about Chester BID visit www.chesterbid.co.uk
Published 15th February 2021