CHESTER University’s desire to secure a city centre base moved a step nearer after plans were submitted to convert County Hall into an educational facility.
The university has offered to buy the historic riverside building for £10.5m from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC).
The council needs to sell County Hall so Cheshire East Council can realise its share of the asset following local government reorganisation.
CWAC wants to relocate to the £19.5m office within the iconic new HQ building overlooking the racecourse, which it claims will have lower running costs.
Graham Fairlie, who submitted the County Hall planning application, said two or three faculties would be based in County Hall. A final decision over which ones would relocate has not be taken.
There is no intention for the building to be used as a hall of residence.
The entrance hall on the ground floor would be available for use as a gallery for students to exhibit their work.
And a supporting document states that the use of the building will be ‘sympathetic to and in keeping with its location and surrounding’.
Businessman David Pickering, who is on the university board of governors, said: “I think it would be good for Chester, assuming it goes through.
“ It makes the HQ plan viable and it moves the university into the centre of the town.”
Accompanying drawings for the existing County Hall basement show a ‘war operations room’, emergency communications, dormitories, a decontamination room and airlock.