A hotel plan is back on the agenda in the heart of Chester city centre.
Planning permission was granted for a seven-storey 65-bed hotel in Forest Street back in 2007 when Chester City Council was the planning authority.
Demolition of an existing office building took place in summer 2008 but the developer subsequently suffered ‘financial difficulties’ as a result of the recession and was unable to continue with the scheme.
A letter accompanying an application to amend the original plan says development has lawfully commenced so consent remains valid. But internal changes are required to create more bedrooms in line with the business model of the new operators who are not identified.
Agent Brian O’Connor, of Lichfields, on behalf of applicants Craigleith Property Group, wrote: “This application seeks to make minor amendments to the development (hotel) already approved by the original application. The proposed development – a mid-range hotel – will meet a need in Chester which is currently being under-catered for.
“The hotel will provide a vital service, regenerate this long term derelict site which is long over due and will help to generate further use of the facilities and services currently provided in the city.”
Despite the number of rooms increasing, Mr O’Connor said the ‘footprint, orientation and scale’ of the proposed scheme was ‘almost identical’ and did ‘not materially change the size and appearance of the structure’.
A document supporting the project noted the site lies within the city centre conservation area with several neighbouring listed buildings reflecting the attractive area in which the hotel was situated such as University Church Free School, the Chester City Baths and Forest House, where Brewhouse & Kitchen is based.
It adds: “The site is extremely well connected and makes for a desirable location to provide accommodation to visitors of the city. The location being so central adds to the desirability to increase its capacity to deliver more tourist accommodation.”
Recent research by Colliers revealed Chester as the UK’s number one hotspot for future hotel investment and development. Its UK Hotels Market Index uses a series of key performance indicators to score each of 34 locations across the UK from one to five.
Chester’s high position was attributed to factors including good occupancy levels, upward revenue per available room trend and ‘low active pipeline’, meaning there is only a small stock of room supply being developed.
Hotels are currently planned or under construction next to Waitrose in Boughton, in Nicholas Street, Pepper Street, Dee House by the amphitheatre, Foregate Street, Grosvenor Park Road and The Old Palace overlooking the river.
Last year Muse Developments, who built the One City Place office block near Chester Railway Station, revealed negotiations were ongoing to bring a 120-bed hotel to the other side of the canal from Waitrose as part of its wider business quarter masterplan. Abbey Square by Chester Cathedral is also being marketed as the potential hotel location.