Cheshire West & Chester Council has instructed CBRE to find a partner for the redevelopment of the historic 22,000 sq ft building, which has been vacant since the 1990s.
In the short term, CWAC has submitted a listed building consent application for works to stabilise parts of the grade two-listed building, with the hope of starting work this autumn, and completing early in 2022.
The application was put together by a team of consultants including structural engineer Ramboll, conservation architect Donald Insall Associates, quantity surveyor Thornton-Firkin and construction, design and management advisor Keelagher Okey Klein.
Once consent is secured, a contractor will be tendered for to carry out the works. It is expected that some removal of internal walls will be required, along with supporting the external facades.
The over-arching plan is to redevelop the building using a public and private partnership, allowing community access, offering heritage interpretation, and bringing the building back into use.
The wider Dee House site has a wider historical value than just the building. It covers part of the area of an unexcavated Roman amphitheatre discovered in 1929, providing views over the visible section of the amphitheatre.
Dee House is located on the A5268 ring road to the south east of Chester city centre adjacent to the City Walls, close to St John’s Church, the Roman Gardens and Grosvenor Park.
The building was constructed in the 1730s as a townhouse for a former mayor of Chester, and was used in the 19th century as a convent school. Additional wings were added at various points, and the building was taken over by BT for uses as offices from the 1970s until the early 1990s.
Cllr Louise Gittins, CWAC leader, said: “The council and the Dee House and Amphitheatre Working Group have the collective view that Dee House is an important historical asset for the city of Chester and should be redeveloped and modernised for the 21st century, while retaining its historic appearance and unique characteristics.
“It is a building with great potential in a prominent location in the centre of a well-known and historic city. Anyone who chooses to join the council in investing in its future is sure to benefit, helping to transform it into a place visitors and residents can enjoy for many years to come.”
The working group’s Andy Foster added that “after more than a year of deliberations and taking guidance from experts in the field of archaeological and historic building preservation, the working group concluded that Dee House should be saved and redeveloped”.
CWAC is keen to progress the Dee House project, it being part of the One City 15-year economic regeneration masterplan. Elsewhere in its major projects list, a new fly-through was released earlier this summer of the Chester Northgate project, where Vinci Construction is now on site.