WHAT'S big, pink and ugly and sits by the river in Chester?

The answer - according to many - is the Salmon Leap flats, where the view from the inside is spectacular but the view from the outside is rather more questionable.

However, since February the residents have owned the freehold on the blocks, meaning they have the power to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

John Bannerman, one of the directors of the Salmon Leap Management Company, has lived there 10 years and loves it while recognising the controversy.

'There are magnificent views, the premises are adaptable and they are spacious compared to the modern apartments being built in the city centre,' said John, who says the homes sell for about £300,000. 'It's a great quality of life.'

John said the style of the blocks, built in 1968-69, were influenced by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and are liked by some.

'I think there are mixed opinions. We have had overseas visitors who have said they are quite modernistic. The question is do you want variable designs in a place like Chester or do you want everything to look ancient?

Nevertheless the residents can now change the appearance of their homes if the desire and the funding are available, subject to planning permission.

John feels the flat roofs make Salmon Leap stand out more than if they had angled roofs.

'If we had an angled roof it would break up the effect and provide additional space on top of the buildings. We could have a glass roof to create a summer house,' he suggested.

There is also a plan to centralise the TV antennas on each block to tidy up the appearance and in 2008 the buildings will need a fresh coat of paint although whether it will change colour seems unlikely.

Residents voted for the £36,000 'Sicilian Sunset' paint job after acquiring the lease in 2002/3 and the shade had nothing to do with the colour of salmon.

'We are heading towards a more European climate and these colour schemes are common from Helsinki down to southern Spain,' said John.

'It's difficult to satisfy public opinion and individual owners.'

Other improvements outside the control of the residents would be to re-build the steps by the weir and plant flowers by the river bank.



Should the flats be given a new look? Telephone: 01244 606424/5 Fax: 01244 606498 E-mail: newsroom@cheshirenews.co.uk