A dirty staircase to be avoided at all costs, a scaffold blighted historic bridge and an overbearing health centre have been shamed as this year’s ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ in Chester.
Chester Civic Trust has named ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ buildings and features within the city as part of their alternative New Year’s honours list.
Some of the success stories include the green Countess of Chester Country Park, a large scale retirement development next to Northgate Arena and a tiny health shop on Bridge Street Rows, which were all commended in the awards.
The ‘chairman’s special award’ was presented to Hale Estates’ The Courtyard Housing Scheme in Beckett’s Lane, which impressed judges with its interesting inner courtyard of brick and timber which respects the character of the area.
But a dirty and ‘unpleasant’ staircase behind the market and the scaffold encased Watergate Bridge made this year’s bad list.
The controversial Delamere Street heath centre was slammed as both 'bad' and 'ugly'.
While a ‘truly ghastly’ window display at an E-Cigarette store and bags of rubbish left uncollected around the city, which create a bad impression for residents and visitors, were slammed as ugly.
Former porn entrepreneur Nick Cracknell, who owns the E-Cig business, previously made headlines for using images of two girls dressed in shocking fancy dress outfits of the Twin Towers in a controversial advertising campaign.
The trust – who said they were concerned by the deteriorating and decaying state of some the city’s listed buildings including Chester Castle – slated the ongoing delays to repairs on Watergate Bridge, which has been encased in scaffolding and wooden hoarding since September 2011.
The trust said: “this important gateway has been blighted by unsightly temporary supports for well over two years.”
The controversial super clinic on Delamere Street, which the trust previously slated as ‘monstrous’, was nominated as bad and ugly, described as ‘too tall’ and ‘overbearing’, especially in a sensitive setting close to the canal and City Wall.
The boss of the local NHS even acknowledged the new super centre 'isn't a beautiful building', last year.
Last year’s criticised projects and landmarks included the collapsed passageway between Liverpool Road and Parkgate Road, the deterioration of Greenbank in Handbridge – both slated as ‘bad’ – while the cheap yellow bus shelters were slated as ugly.
This is the ninth year the trust has highlighted the best and the worst of developments in the city, which they say aims to encourage high standards of design and maintenance and draw attention to those who ‘fall short of the standards Chester deserves’.
Praised schemes and properties classed as ‘good' by the Trust were:
The black and white Lodge Cafe, recently opened as part of the £3.6M revamp of Grosvenor Park.
New student accommodation Grosvenor House, described as a ‘simple but well designed modern building’.
The restoration of the Blue Coat, the transformation of which into a new centre for charities and voluntary organisations was praised as an ‘ambitious and commendable’ new use for a 300 year old listed building.
And the Cathedral at Heights tour was heralded as a ‘great new attraction’ which significantly enhanced the experience of visiting Chester Cathedral.
Abbot’s Wood Retirement Living, next to the Northgate Arena, student accommodation at Trinity Hall on George Street and the Countess of Chester Country Park were commended – with judges describing the large-scale green space which was officially opened by the Duchess of Cornwall during her visit to the city last year.
Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust, who manage the park, said: “To have earned recognition from the Chester Civic Trust is a fantastic accolade, endorsing the positive impact the site has had for the community.”
But the turn-up for the books was a little shop on Bridge Street Rows which only opened four and a half months ago commended for its ‘tasteful’ design, just doors down from the E-Cigarette store branded as ugly by the Trust.
Business owner Niki Davies, who has a second shop in Heswall, said she was ‘over the moon’ her store was highly commended on the list and was so proud she’d stuck the certificate on the door and took to twitter to celebrate.
“The other store is purple and orange, but I knew I wouldn't get away with that here,” said Niki.
The mother of one started her health store business from scratch shortly after her husband Steve tragically died six years ago and she was made redundant from her job, as she needed to put food on the table for herself and her daughter Kirsten.
“To win with all these big boys and big money developments is just wonderful,” added the 50-year-old from Little Sutton.
“I saw the building and fell in love with it, it’s just incredible.”