The project team at Chester Northgate said they expect the public inquiry into the CPO for site assembly to take place in early 2018.
Cheshire West & Chester Council took control of the long-awaited city centre retail scheme in 2013 when it acquired the interests of Dutch property company ING Real Estate.
CWAC, advised by Rivington Land, made a compulsory purchase order in July to acquire 70 properties from outstanding objectors. The council already owns around 85% of the 14-acre site.
The council and Rivington were exhibiting at Revo in Liverpool this week, where they said the inquiry is expected to be held in the new year, and a decision within six months of the close of the inquiry.
David Lewis, chief executive, Rivington Land, added that prelet interest was growing as the scheme comes forward. He explained: “We are in legals with three major retailers and with three restaurants too and we hope to confirm these names soon. There has also been private investor interest in Northgate because they are seeing the potential and want to get involved.”
The sites to be acquired through the CPO include Goldsmiths House office building on the southern edge of the site, Trinity Street Car Park, retail premises from 12 to 20 Watergate Street, Moray Court and premises on Trinity Street.
Graham Pink, director of the council, said: “We welcome the inquiry and look forward to its conclusion when the date is officially given.”
Work on the £300m development, which will contain 50 shops, 15 restaurants and 70 residential units, is being funded by Cheshire West & Chester Council. A joint venture investment partner is a possibility, said Lewis, and institutional investors have expressed interest in the project, one of the largest retail proposals in the country.
A formal marketing campaign to find an investment partner is being considered for spring 2018.
GVA, JLL and Strutt & Parker advise CWAC.