A student housing developer has shown interest in former Ministry of Defence buildings at The Castle but the Crown Estate says the magnificent listed buildings are currently not for sale.

The Crown Estate, an independent commercial business which manages the state’s property portfolio, says an asset review is ongoing into Colvin House and Napier House at the historic site in Chester.

Dating from the 19th century, the buildings (Colvin House built in 1804 and Napier House in 1830) - next to Chester Crown Court - have remained empty since being vacated by the MoD 18 years ago.

Napier House was originally an armoury and barracks which later became offices and Colvin House had been an officers’ mess until July 1, 1997, when the Army moved out.

From about 2005, the Malmaison/Hotel du Vin group had shown interest in converting the two blocks into a 40-45-bed boutique hotel but the plan was put on hold due to the economic down-turn.

Colvin House in Castle Square at The Castle in Chester

But The Chronicle recently took a phone call from a student housing developer seeking contact details for the owners saying it would be a good location next to the university’s Riverside campus and would also complement their existing student accommodation in the city centre.

Neither the company nor the Crown Estate has responded to requests to find out whether the enquiry has progressed. Any conversion scheme would need careful handling given the listed status of the buildings and could prove expensive, especially as the premises have previously been described as ‘crumbling’.

Work to begin on Chester Propylaeum entrance to The Castle in February 2016

A spokeswoman for the Crown Estate said: “Colvin House and Napier House are an historic part of The Crown Estate’s regional portfolio. We are currently conducting an asset review to understand their potential future uses.”

She confirmed the buildings were currently not for sale.