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Ellesmere Port town centre Masterplan adoption

30th January 2019 – Ellesmere Port town centre Masterplan adoption.  Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet will be asked to adopt the Ellesmere Port Masterplan on the 6th February 2019.

The Masterplan is the town centre development vision for the next 15 years including investment in roads and car parking, improved culture and leisure offer in the town centre, enhanced market facilities, better access to public services and a reduction in the number of shop buildings.

Consultation was carried out in the town over a six week period between October and November 2018.  The results from the questionnaire have been fully integrated into the report priorities.

Councillor Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure said: “Thank you to all of the people taking time to view the plans and complete the questionnaire. These opinions have supported the Masterplan being presented to Cabinet.

“Significant progress has been made improving the town’s education and sports facilities and delivering major housing developments. We have invested in foot and cycleway improvements in the town to link key destinations and further investment will soon happen on the A5117, Canal Corridor and Sutton Way.

“The investment in the town centre will enable the ongoing regeneration of Ellesmere Port through a structured and locally supported plan that underpins future development and investment decisions.”

The questionnaire asked about the reduction in retail, 70 per cent of the respondents strongly agreed that diversification will keep the town centre thriving. The two most popular alternative uses of ‘Leisure and Culture’ and ‘Food and Drink’ support national research that town centres need to be able to offer an experience rather than just shops.

When asked if people thought the Council should increase the use of the Civic Hall and the Library for cultural activities, 84 per cent agreed. Suggestions for the Civic Hall included: art exhibitions, plays and musicals, choirs, theatre, eateries, wining and dining, concerts, drama, films, antique fairs, craft fairs, flower shows and farmers market.

The majority of respondents were positive about the Indoor Market, but had some specific suggestions for it to be improved. Ideas included a different lay-out, better and more tables, food court moved to one side, interior repainting and outside advertisement. There were also suggestions for more stalls including fish shop, toys, craft beer, artisan bakers and live music.

The questionnaire asked if more homes should be built in the town centre in addition to over 1,000 that have already been constructed. Public opinion was relatively balanced but overall in favour of more homes being built with 49 per cent agreeing and 34 per cent disagreeing.

The Masterplan report considers movement and public realm and puts forward a range of initiative and projects to help improve access to the centre and improve the pedestrian experience for those who use it.

Maintaining good quality access to the town centre, improving town centre parking facilities and improving the environmental quality of key streets and spaces all play an important role in the transformation of the town centre. Provision for cars needs to be balanced and making good quality provision for other types of transport.

The proposal to build the new Public Services Hub on the bus station site and moving the bus station onto Civic Way was presented in the consultation and respondents were asked to prioritise what facilities were important for the new bus interchange. All of the facilities were considered important with ‘CCTV/security’ having the most mentions at 90 per cent, followed by ‘Safe crossing points’ at 88 per cent.

One of the parking areas most underused due to poor access is the area immediately north of the market building, between York Road and the site of the former Knot Hotel. It is very well located to serve both the Market, and the high street retailing along Whitby Road. There was support (64 per cent) for improved access to the town centre car park either through the Knot Hotel or York Road.

The Masterplan has been developed by the Ellesmere Port Regeneration Team and the Ellesmere Port Development Board in collaboration with the Localities team and the Building Futures programme and this has helped ensure that the changes proposed support employment opportunities, healthy lifestyles, accessibility and giving people the best start in life.