The redesigned proposal for the £100m masterplan was approved at yesterday’s Cheshire West & Chester Council planning committee.
Councillors unanimously passed the development, and commended the applicant, Chester Race Company, for “not just paying lip service” to the council’s criticism at its previous meeting.
Cllr Jill Houlbrook said the applicant had listened to the council’s comments, and “resolved issues that I raised last time.” She went on to say that the inclusion of a large public lawn called Paradise Lawn, in place of the Leverhulme Stand which is set to be demolished, “is absolutely great and opens up the area, which will be lighter, brighter, and more welcoming.”
Cllr Peter Rooney said the amended design had dealt with the envisaged traffic problems at Saddlery Way, now proposing that cars will use nearby Kitchen Street and an existing route through the railway arches: “It’s really refreshing to see them listening to our concerns and then coming back with a much-improved plan.”
The scheme is set to include the removal of car parking and ancillary buildings between the railway viaduct, Holiday Inn Express, and the County Stand.
This is to make way for a six-storey building that will house both the Hospitality Grandstand and a conference space. The grandstand is to be five-storeys with a set-back rooftop and a roof terrace. The conference space will be housed in a linked three-storey elevation and be able to hold 1,000 guests.
At the committee, there were representations of support from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Marketing Cheshire, and the Chester Growth Partnership.
The plans originally proposed a separate grandstand and conference centre, and the creation of multi-storey car park. However, when a group of protestors, including Chester’s Civic Trust and former leader of the council Cllr Sam Dixon, voiced their complaints, the scheme was rejected in March.
The proposal was described as “too tall and far too frilly”, but the application was ultimately rejected with claims that the scheme would be “overly dominant and incongruous” and would have an “unacceptable impact on important views and [Chester’s] historic skyline.”