Revised Chester Racecourse redevelopment plans approved

Revised plans for the redevelopment of Chester Racecourse were yesterday unanimously approved by councillors five months after they refused an earlier application for the scheme.

A visualisation of the redeveloped Chester Racecourse. Pic: Chester Race Company
A visualisation of the redeveloped Chester Racecourse. Pic: Chester Race Company

In March, the proposals were refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council against officers' advice after members concluded the scheme would have an "unacceptable impact" on the historic setting of the city.

In the earlier application, Chester Race Company sought outline permission for a five-phase redevelopment covering a 1.8 hectare site. It included plans for a new six-storey grandstand, a three-storey events building, a three-storey car park, an extension to a Holiday Inn, and a boutique hotel and administration building.

Chester Racecourse falls within the Chester City Centre Conservation Area.

Councillors refused the application on the basis that the "height, scale, massing and design" of the development "would be overly dominant and incongruous within its setting".

They added that the development would "fail to be contextually appropriate", "result in unacceptable impact on important views of the historic skyline" and "fail to preserve or enhance the setting of the conservation area".

The revised plan considered yesterday moves the grandstand closer to a nearby hotel and amends its roof design in an effort to protect views. 

The current scheme also removes the boutique hotel and administration building, the proposed Holiday Inn extension and the multi-story car park, which is replaced with basement car parking.

Members unanimously approved the outline application.

A separate detailed application for a temporary three-year permission for marquees and hospitality chalets to be used during the race season only was also unanimously approved. 

According to the officers' report, which recommended that both applications be approved: "The proposed development would undoubtedly alter the appearance of not only this part of the development site but also this part of the City. 

"However, it is considered that the development by virtue of its design, scale and layout, along with the use of high quality materials and high quality hard and soft landscaping, would enhance the appearance of one of the principal gateways and route ways into Chester."

Officers wrote that the proposal would "not result in an unacceptable impact upon important views and the historic skyline", would "preserve the character of the conservation area, and would "contribute towards sustainable economic business growth".

The report added that support for the proposal came from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which stated: "The importance of this scheme, as an addition to Chester and the wider Cheshire and Warrington economy, cannot be understated".

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