A MULTI-MILLION pound vision to create a lavish new dining district in Chester city centre where diners can eat and drink until 1.30am has sparked concerns of a increase in drink-fuelled violence and parking chaos.
Plans put forward by the owners of the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, Bride Hall, could see the derelict Habitat building in Pepper Street transformed into a modern glass-fronted centre filled with four high profile restaurants and cafes complete with alfresco dining.
The development, which would also see the neighbouring Chateau furniture store close its doors, would result in a major refurbishment of the former Methodist Chapel, with the ancient columns repaired and restored to their former glory, and the demolition of disused warehouses behind the site.
Developers Bride Hall and The Carlyle Group have submitted a licensing application to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
But this has prompted residents on Volunteer Street to express their concerns that the new restaurants would make their already ‘unbearable living situation’ even worse.
A planning application for the development is working its way through the system and is subject to consultation.
Objecting to the late-night development one resident, who has lived on Volunteer Street for 27 years, said the area already suffered from a lack of parking as diners and tourists left cars outside their houses to visit nearby restaurants and walk along The Groves.
“We are already harassed in the evening and early hours of the morning by drunks going and coming from late-night venues within the locality,” said Patricia Dickinson in a letter of objection against the plans which has been published on the council website.
“The harassment goes from damage to cars to violent language and continuous urinating against our walls.
“More cars and people using our area will make this awful situation we have become more unbearable.”
Mystery surrounds which restaurants will be opened in the four units, which will be spread over two floors of the transformed Multiyork and Habitat buildings, but developers have said they have already been approached by a number of high-profile food outlets interested in taking up the space.
And once opened the restaurants could play live music performances and serve alcohol on and off the premises from 8am-1.30am every day, if licensing officers give the plans the go ahead.
Bride Hall director Roger Gorham said the development, which could go ahead as early as the end of this year, would create a wealth of jobs and help bring people flocking back to the city centre.
“The outcome will be a cluster of quality food offers that will inject even more new life in the city centre and benefit the wider Chester economy.
“We expect a significant number of jobs to be created as well as a major investment into the leisure industry in Chester.”
He said parking facilities would be available directly opposite the site of the proposed development and pointed out a multi-storey car park also runs adjacent to the site.
Residents will be able to raise any concerns they may have about the proposals as part of the planning process.