ROYAL Chester Rowing Club has unveiled its vision for an enlarged £1.3m boathouse in line with long held expansion plans.

The club, which celebrates 175 years on the Dee in Chester in 2013, has seen its membership swell to almost 300, partly because of the success of the GB Olympic rowing squad.

But the current location is ‘seriously overcrowded’ with insufficient space for boat storage and learning programmes for adults and juniors.

Now The Royals have secured an option on Dee Valley Water land in Huntington, just upstream of the Red House pub opposite the Meadows.

Funding for the 12,000sq ft Chester Water Sports Centre could come from selling the current base and securing grants from bodies like Sport England.

A meeting of councillors, nature lovers and Chester Sailing Club heard the not-for-profit enterprise embraced the city’s aspiration to make greater use of the river, partly by reinforcing sporting links with local schools.

Club captain Mike Palamarczuk added: “Moving to a new location will give us better facilities and a better chance to compete more nationally.”

The Royals, whose honorary members include Olympic gold medal winning rower Tom James, are talking to other rowing clubs like Grosvenor to see if they would like to join the project.

Conversations have also been held with Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave who wants his Redgrave Institute to have a rowing presence on the Dee if his main sports centre is given the go-ahead as part of the student village planning application at Blacon.

John Hinnigan, chairman of the club’s development committee, said: “At the moment we have no formal or informal arrangement with Redgrave. We have discussed with him personally what his plans might be.”

The new Royals’ site would be in green belt but the indications are favourable to planning permission being granted. A planning application could be up to 12 months away.