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Chester Fire Station student housing scheme scuppered

Developer withdraws from deal with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Chester Fire Station

Plans to build student housing on the Chester Fire Station site have come to nothing after the developer withdrew.

Cheshire Fire Authority previously struck a deal with developer Watkin Jones to replace the existing six-bay fire station with a new three-bay station at the front of the St Anne Street base in Newtown.

Surplus land, including the huge rear drill yard, was to be sold for student accommodation generating ‘a capital payment’ for the authority.

But it has now been confirmed that Watkin Jones has withdrawn from the project.

Steve Barnes, Cheshire West and Chester service delivery manager for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are considering options at present and will talk to members of the fire authority in due course. Officers believe that the authority will remain committed to securing a new fire station on the current site. Some of the current site will be surplus to our requirements."

Cheshire Fire Authority chairman Cllr Bob Rudd

Cheshire Fire Authority chairman Cllr Bob Rudd understands Watkin Jones switched focus to delivering a 321-bed student accommodation scheme on the nearby Stagecoach bus depot in Liverpool Road. But he confirmed the intention remained to replace and down-grade the existing fire station and sell the surplus land to generate a capital receipt.

“The current fire station is too big. Two-thirds of it is unused,” added Cllr Rudd.

He believes student accommodation is off the agenda because the market is becoming saturated but is unsure what could take its place, adding: “There are no plans that I’m aware of.”

Cllr Rudd confirmed there had been talks in the past with a supermarket chain. And last year there were rumours Lidl wanted to located there.

Lidl spokeswoman Sophie Lambert-Russell said at the time: “I can confirm that we aren’t considering the fire station site. Lidl are interested in bringing a new store to Chester but we have no confirmed sites at this time.”

The company said last month that Chester was ‘still an area of interest for us’ but nothing was confirmed at the moment.

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