A second phase of the Chester Dining Quarter could be developed if plans are approved.
Five new restaurants are proposed for Pepper Street within the Grosvenor Shopping Centre opposite the first phase of the dining quarter which is now complete with South American restaurant Las Iguanas, Opera Grill, American-themed Coast to Coast and Mexican eaterie Chimichanga all operating.
Artist’s impressions show images featuring names and logos which bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Jamie Oliver, Wagamama and Côte Brasserie but which are spelled differently.
A document accompanying the latest planning application by HIG Chester Property Sarl and Bride Hall Real Estate Partners states that TK Maxx, Sports Direct and Ed’s Diner have all been created within the shopping centre in addition to the first phase of the dining quarter on the outside.
It continues: “Whilst the works to the south side of Pepper Street and in the centre have been successful, the Chester retail environment has continued to be challenging. There are now a number of vacant retail units located on the north side of Pepper Street and these contribute nothing to the level of activity within the centre or to the streetscape.”
The document points out the second phase of the dining quarter would also be located in an area where there are already four established restaurants in the form of Piccolino, The Blackhouse Grill, Zizzi and The Church.
The design and access statement adds: “This illustrates the existing offer of restaurants within the city and interest from other restaurant operators for representation remains high.
“The close proximity of these restaurants to each other makes Pepper Street an attractive place for new restaurants and presents the opportunity to build a critical mass and form a true dining quarter.”
However, there are murmurings of discontent from small independent restaurant owners about allowing even more eating chains to locate in Chester with fears there is insufficient demand for everyone to survive. The Chronicle has been contacted anonymously by one restaurant owner who believes it is unfair on small businesses but that Chester also needs to encourage independents to provide a unique offer.
Chester MP Chris Matheson is worried about the restaurant chain bandwagon.
He told The Chronicle: “We can’t chuck all over eggs in one basket or the basket will break. I like to support small independent businessmen and women who have had the courage to set them up. Hopefully they will benefit when the new theatre opens and the cinema as well.”
He continued: “National planning policy needs to be changed so that councils can take account of an overbalance of one type to try and bring balance back to the local economy but the problem is that’s considered to be anti-competitive.”