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Chester public to have their say over watersports centre

Facility would provide more sporting opportunities on Dee but won't please everyone

Computer-generated image of the proposed Chester Community Watersports Centre by The Meadows.

People are invited to learn more about controversial plans for the £2.5m Chester Community Watersports Centre.

Proposals have been worked up by Cheshire West and Chester Council to redevelop Queen’s Park High School ’s boathouse in partnership with the school and Royal Chester Rowing Club .

A public exhibition will be held in the Palatine Room, Chester Town Hall on Tuesday October 25, 3pm-8pm, offering an opportunity to find out more details.

The aim is create a new watersports facility on the existing site, south of the Dee , to be used by schools and those interested in taking up watersports as well as the existing users. The scheme will provide a five-bay boat shed for rowing, canoeing and dragon boat use, along with a training room and associated facilities.

Computer generated image of the proposed Chester Community Watersports Centre showing the proposed view from Lower Park Road/Elizabeth Crescent junction to the Meadows access.

However, Friends of Chester Meadows, which involves local people in managing the important area of nature conservation and recreation, has raised concerns the building will encroach on to part of the Meadows.

There have also been issues raised around the large scale of the development compared to the existing footprint, the traffic that would be generated and the possibility of noise and disruption, especially if the facility includes a bar.

Chester Meadows campaign begins with petition

Chair Rachel Cross said there were ‘differing views’, including within her own group, as some were members of the Royals’ rowing club and would welcome the scheme.

She added: “However, the general stance is that we have always opposed any development of the Meadows while recognising the old boat house does need some work. It’s all about doing things in moderation and in sympathy with the environment.”

Rowers on the River Dee

The exhibition will provide the opportunity for residents to view the latest plans, talk to the architects and project team and provide feedback ahead of a planning application, expected to be submitted this autumn.

Councillor Louise Gittins, cabinet member for culture, leisure and wellbeing, said: “This is a great opportunity for residents to find out more about our plans for an exciting new watersports centre.

“All feedback received will be considered before a planning application is submitted, so it is important that we gather as many views as possible. Our aim is to deliver a new facility which will maximise the benefit of the River Dee for local communities and enhance access to one of the best rivers in the country for watersports”.

One of the major partners in the project is Royal Chester Rowing Club, whose current boathouse is ‘seriously overcrowded’. The club had been working on plans relocate to a £1.3m community water sports centre up-river but this proposal is now on hold

Call to make Chester a watersports powerhouse

The current Queen's Park High School boathouse viewed from front and rear.

Other organisations backing the project are Deva Canoe Club, Riverside Canoe Club, Cheshire Scouts, Chester Growth Partnership, Active Cheshire, British Rowing and British Canoeing.

The pre-planning consultation runs until the end of day on Friday, October 28, 2016. There also be an opportunity to comment on the proposals during the formal consultation process following submission of the planning application in a few weeks. It is anticipated the proposal will be presented to the planning committee in March 2017.

If you are unable to attend the exhibition, the plans will be available to view and comment on by clicking here .



David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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