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New Hoole housing option alongside proposed history centre

Council papers reveal centre could be co-located next to 'small housing development’

The site of the former Chester Enterprise Centre, off Hoole bridge, which burnt down in 2010.

Papers supporting a vision for a new state-of-the-art £7m history centre in Hoole suggest a small housing development could go alongside.

This week it was revealed Cheshire West and Chester Council is seeking to replace Cheshire Record Office in Duke Street, Chester , because it is ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

Next Wednesday (September 13) the council cabinet will be asked to back a recommendation that would see a new history centre built on the site previously occupied by Chester Enterprise Centre, off Hoole Road, which burnt down in December 2010.

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies in Duke Street, Chester

The site appraisal, which looked at alternative locations such as Chester Castle , Gorse Stacks roundabout, Northgate and St Anne Street car park, said the Hoole base enjoyed advantages including the fact it was ‘large enough to co-locate eg a small housing development’. This presented opportunities ‘to connect archives and housing’.

Other benefits included:

■ Cost-effective site to deliver because it is flat and empty with existing services

■ Potential for new build incorporating service and user needs from outset at lowest cost of £7m

■ Opportunities to connect the service with the local community in Hoole

■ Easy access by road and public transport

On the other hand, being further away from the city centre compared with the other sites was noted as a disadvantage. And residents have already raised concerns if the existing access off the Hoole bridge is to continue because of the potential for road safety issues.

This is the current access to the former Chester Enterprise Centre, off Hoole bridge, which burnt down in 2010.

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies is a shared service between CWaC and Cheshire East Council.

Under proposals due before both authorities’ cabinets next week, the county archive would be rehoused in two new bespoke history centres – the Chester centre and one in Crewe . These would be climate-controlled environments to house the collections, better display them and make them more interactive and accessible to the public.

The archive ranges from the middle ages to the present day and includes ‘8km of archives’ from businesses, schools, hospitals and local clubs and organisations. In addition, it has tens of thousands of photographs, maps and books covering all aspects of Cheshire’s history.

The £13m joint scheme, if approved, would see each authority contribute £4.2m with the remainder of the money being sought via a bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The Chester Enterprise Centre fire in December, 2010.

The decisions will be taken at a meeting of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet on Tuesday (September 12) and CWaC cabinet the following day. Subject to funding, the proposal new facilities would open in 2022/23.

In the meantime, the developer behind the new business quarter by Chester Railway Station has applied for planning permission to create a temporary car park on the former enterprise centre land as a short term measure. Muse Developments says the 100-space car park would serve the occupants of One City Place which is the first of seven proposed buildings as part of the business quarter.

Eventually, present occupiers of One City Place will be provided spaces in the wider development.

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