It’s not looking good for plans to transform Chester’s crumbling Dee House into a hotel, restaurant and visitor centre.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) revealed Daniel Thwaites plc as the successful bidder to redevelop Dee House in September, 2016.
But ‘continuing lack of activity’ on the project recently earned the grade II-listed Dee House a ‘Bad’ award from Chester Civic Trust.
Last August Rick Bailey, Thwaites chief executive officer, insisted work was ‘progressing behind the scenes’ but three subsequent press enquiries by The Chronicle have resulted in no responses from the company.
It seems the first stage in the process – to complete structural condition surveys – has still not happened due to higher than expected costs even though this was due to take place between November 2016 and February 2017.
Applications for planning, listed building and scheduled ancient monument consent should have been lodged last summer.
Lack of progress has been jumped on by campaigners who would prefer to see Dee House demolished to allow part of the other half of the amphitheatre on which it sits to be excavated.
Adam Dandy wrote on Twitter this week: “They should have created a ‘Shame of the City Award’ for Dee House. Whichever side of the whole amphitheatre fence you’re on! It’s a disgrace and Thwaites need to be called out on it. If you’re going to revamp it, then do so, if not and it’s going to cost too much then tell us.”
Councillor Louise Gittins , cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “The council continues to work with Thwaites on the Dee House site and remains committed to securing a long-term sustainable use for the building.
“As previously reported, due to the complexity of the site and the very poor condition of the building the logistics of moving the project forward have been significantly more challenging than originally anticipated.
“In addition, it has become apparent that internal survey costs are materially higher than originally forecast. We continue to work hard with Thwaites and Historic England to identify a solution.
“We expect the ongoing investigative work to draw to a conclusion in the near future. At this point we will be in a position to give a more detailed update on the next steps.”