Since 2005, the Gunnery development has transformed retail, residential and business opportunities in Tarvin and now it is reaping the rewards. Ben Coulbeck reports
Award-winning architects are celebrating five years since a multi-million pound redevelopment transformed a village centre.
The Gunnery in Tarvin has seen its reputation grown from being a pointless project to a well respected and popular site for shoppers, diners and visitors.
In 2005, Matrec Developments bought the site, on High Street, and following a complete overhaul and rebuild, created retail, business and residential opportunities while restoring the authentic appearance of the various buildings.
Owner and developer Peter Wright said: “The aim of the scheme has been to restore the buildings while maintaining their integrity.
“The centrepiece of the development is the Gunnery shop, a Grade 2 listed building, which is now a delicatessen, cafe and restaurant that has been restored to its former glory together with nine cottages, offices and shops. The final result blending harmoniously within Tarvin’s historic architecture.
“Former reluctant reactions of the community have been converted into vibrant support, realising the architectural benefit for the village as well as the positive economic side effects provided by this exemplary scheme.”
It is understood that the main building had originally been rebuilt by the Georgians after it was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1752.
And named after the original owner of the shop, George Gunnery and Co, the developers were also eager to preserve the memory of the family, especially as several members are still thought to be living in the area.
The Chester Civic Trust recently awarded the Gunnery development an award for building renovation work while last year the project was shortlisted for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors North West Awards for building conservation.
The latter accolade is all the more remarkable as the Gunnery development was privately funded while the majority of its rivals, including universities and councils, in the prestigious RICS competition were funded with public money.
While the Gunnery is now an accepted part of village life in Tarvin, having survived public objection to its development in 2005, managers of the restaurant and delicatessen Sally and Davin Harris are hoping the community will support them for at least another successful five years.
Sally said: “Since opening The Gunnery we have been welcomed with open arms by the local community of Tarvin.
“As well as a local clientele we now have regulars who come every month as far a field as London who describe the combination of its listed interior and inventive food menu as unique.
“We are passionate about representing Cheshire producers and the quality of the local produce within a couple of miles of Tarvin has surprised us, in fact it is not an uncommon sight to see a fishmonger at the Kitchen’s backdoor in the morning, for this to then appear on the menu later that day.
“We hope to celebrate the best of Cheshire produce and hopefully along the way win a few more awards.”