THE city's Little Roodee car park will be used as bait to save a deal to turn Chester Castle into a boutique hotel.
Chester City Council, site owner Crown Estates and English Heritage had been near to agreeing a deal with a major hotel group - believed to be Malmaison/Hotel du Vin - to convert listed former MoD buildings Colvin House and Napier House.
But county councillors refused to allow 30 parking spaces on Castle Square to be used by hotel guests.
Of 275 spaces on Castle Square and some on the lower car park, 40 are used by court employees and the others by council staff, controlled by permits.
County property officer Ian Gould had argued it would be unmanageable to hand over the 30 spaces because non-hotel guests might try to park there and it would be impossible to put up physical barriers.
Chester City Council planning chief Andy Farrall says the authority is looking at using spaces at its Little Roodee facility, with Crown Estates indicating the hotel deal is in trouble.
In a letter to Chester MP Christine Russell, Jim Yates, Head of Regional and Residential Portfolios at Crown Estates, said: 'Regrettably there has been little progress due to difficulties in persuading the county council to relinquish any car parking spaces.
'As a consequence we are also examining alternative uses within the range of options, which are limited by the nature of the property; the buildings will be expensive to convert, the cost of annual upkeep is significant and the restrictions imposed by both their location and lack of parking in the immediate vicinity reduce the opportunities for future use.'
Mr Farrall said: 'You could provide that parking for the hotel on the Little Roodee, but it depends whether the hotel perceives it as being close enough.
'Any deal between Crown Estates and the hotel would have to secure car parking.'
Mrs Russell, who supports the idea of a boutique hotel with facilities open to the public, said she would be seeking to arrange a meeting with Mr Yates.
'This has dragged on for too long. 'The county council has been totally unhelpful and taxpayers' money is having to be spent to maintain these listed buildings, because they can't be left to rot.'