Council leader Mike Jones is encouraging developers to come up with fresh plans for riverside homes and apartments after the previous scheme was unanimously rejected.

Redrow Homes and site owners Lloyds Banking Group had sought approval for 33 dwellings at the former Western Command Army site in Queen’s Park, Chester.

But Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee took the lead from English Heritage and Chester Civic Trust who objected to revised plans showing the demolition of existing buildings and their replacement with 18 detached houses  and 21 apartments.

Cllr Jones, speaking on Chester radio station Dee 106.3, said: “I don’t think people were enamoured with what they looked like. There were two huge horrible blocks on the top and if they wanted flats there they could keep the existing building, I’d  have thought, and convert that into flats.”

Cllr Jones hopes Redrow will 'take a commonsense approach' and modify their plans for this 'special  part of Chester' rather than appealing.

Previous plans included filling in the underground bunkers but retaining two entrances and two vents and installing interpretation boards.  A listener asked whether the wartime bunkers could be fully opened up as a tourist attraction.

But Cllr Jones said such a plan was ‘not financially viable’ and added that English Heritage didn’t believe they were worth preserving.

“I remember them being in a pretty poor state – when I was a young lad and actually went into them, those tunnels, you can access them from the banks of the river,” he said, before  quickly adding that they were 'all  bricked up now'.

A Redrow spokeswoman said the company was 'currently reviewing their options'.