Chester Races gets go-ahead for hotel at its popular Commonhall Social venue

Commonhall Social, Chester -Credit:Google Street View
Commonhall Social, Chester -Credit:Google Street View

Chester Race Company's plans to create a hotel at its popular Commonhall Social bar and restaurant site in the city centre have been given the green light. The development will see an old warehouse building - accessed from the venue's outside terrace - converted into eight hotel rooms.

The company will also be converting four floors at 22 Bridge Street, which includes the historic Rows, into two apartments, while the rear terraced area at Commonhall Social will also be revamped - including the demolition of the dated toilet block and storage areas. The standalone ground floor retail unit will be retained and refurbished as part of the scheme.

Both the full and listed building applications, submitted back in October last year, have been rubber-stamped by Cheshire West and Chester Council this week. The applications referred to a "lack of commercial viability" in relation to the property at Rows level and how it has remained vacant despite being "continually marketed for retail uses".

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A number of letters in support of the development were submitted to the council, with both the White Friars Residents Association and Commonhall Street Resident’s Association backing the plans. However, there were also objections to the scheme.

Concerns raised included possible "harm to residential amenity by way of generating further excessive levels of noise and odour" as well as highways safety risks and construction traffic during the works.

In a planning report recommending approval, case officer Ben Teague states: "Whilst some elements of the proposed development may cause a low level of less than substantial harm to the setting of the Conservation Area, 22 Bridge Street and surrounding listed buildings, this would be mitigated through the improvements to the Row level shop front, improvement to bin storage and enhancement of heritage assets within the application site.

"The conversion to residential in this area of the Rows is also considered to be acceptable and reflects the character of this portion of the Rows. It is also acknowledged that the proposed development would bring a vacant building back into use and would support economic growth through job creation and inward investment whilst also supporting and enhancing the visitor and night-time economies.

"Subject to conditions, it is also considered that the proposed development would have no significant impact upon visual and residential amenity, archaeology, highways, public rights of way and flood risk. Therefore, taking into account the provisions of the development plan and all other material planning considerations, it is recommended that planning permission be approved."

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