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Alexander's owner asks Chester Cathedral for deal over beer garden

Business man frustrated his customers can only use half the green area at rear of popular venue
Jamie Northrop, new owner of Alexander's in Rufus Court, Chester

Well known city centre venue Alexander’s is unable to use half its beer garden following a dispute with Chester Cathedral.

The situation is frustrating for young entrepreneur Jamie Northrop, who only took over the business from Rod Cox and Pauline Thompson in late 2015.

Rod and Pauline remain leaseholders on the building whose ultimate owners are Chester Cathedral which is enforcing covenants that no food or alcohol is served and no structures are allowed on that part of the garden following a civil case.

Chester Urban Wildlife Group created a wild flower meadow at the rear of Alexander's in Chester City Centre.

This has caused a massive headache for Jamie in trying to host music festivals because the amount of space is now so limited. Chester Urban Wildlife Group created a beautiful wildflower meadow on the unusable part of the garden this summer for which Jamie was grateful but he would prefer to reach a compromise with the cathedral.

He explained: “I was more than supportive of the wildflower garden and it has made things look a lot better out there over the past few months. However, for obvious reasons I feel the space would be much better used as a garden for Alexander’s – it had been used for over 20 years in this way before I took over here.

“Obviously I am not connected in any way to the previous issues that have arisen with regards to the space and so it doesn’t seem fair that me and my new business miss out. We are working closely with the local community and host some great events which would only benefit from the use of this space.

Chester Urban Wildlife Group created a wild flower meadow at the rear of Alexander's in Chester City Centre.

“I could go on forever about it but I think the main thing I can’t understand is that the cathedral will not even engage in a dialogue with me regarding the use of the space.

"I am more than happy to meet with them and I am also open to loads of options. We could discuss use of the garden on specific dates only, use of it with some form of donation being made to the cathedral or charity of their choice, or really they could just relax on one clause in a lease written absolutely ages ago before I even lived in the area and allow my business to use it, even on a temporary or short agreement.

“Rod and Pauline of Thompson Cox Partnership, who hold the head lease with the cathedral, have been more than supportive of my use of the space but cannot allow it without the cathedral’s consent.

"My letters to Thompson Cox Partnership are always responded to quickly and clearly on the space whereas my letters and emails to the cathedral have as of yet not been responded to or even acknowledged.

Rod Cox and Pauline Thompson hand over the keys to Jamie Northrop, the new owner of Alexander's Jazz Theatre Bar in Rufus Court, Chester, back in 2015.

“To my knowledge the cathedral have absolutely no reason not to speak to me. I have in the past always had a good relationship with them. I was president of the University of Chester in 2009/10 and always got on well and I was also a tenant of theirs a few years ago and again we always got along. It is a continuing and extremely frustrating situation.”

Cathedral spokeswoman Emma Roberts did not wish to comment. Mr Cox confirmed an appeal had been launched challenging the enforcement of the covenants.

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