There are around 85 empty office units in Chester city centre despite demand a strong list of , according to Iain Jenkinson, director at surveyor GVA.
GVA carried out a study for Cheshire West & Chester Council that found a large number of out-dated small office units, many of which would be more suited to conversion to residential.
Cheshire West & Chester Council is currently offering grant to encourage conversion of commercial space in the city centre into residential use, capped at £25,000 a scheme.
GVA's survey of occupier requirements on office agents' books found 290,000 sq ft of demand in excess of 10,000 sq ft in the Cheshire area, some of which includes Chester city centre. Six requirements were in excess of 25,000 sq ft.
Jenkinson said: "The key for growth is unlocking private sector occupier and lettings activity – of which West Cheshire is clearly an area of great indigenous and inward investment potential."
He added that the area needs to adopt a development strategy that "provides new supply in the right places that helps secure the competitiveness of your unique sectors and cluster strengths."
In response to the lack of decent space in Chester city centre, landlords including Aviva and Opus Land are bringing refurbished space to market. A new business district is also planned around the train station but will take years to deliver.
Jenkinson was speaking at the Place North West Cheshire West Development Forum, sponsored by Pochin, Housing Ladder UK and Marketing Projects.
Also speaking at the event was Chris Brown, chief executive of Marketing Cheshire and Geoff Hope-Terry, chairman of the Weaver Valley Partnership.
Download the presentations from the event below