Chester Race Company has unveiled an artist’s impression showing the brand new look for the racecourse in 2018.
The fresh approach to the main entrance includes a resurfaced and pedestrianised Watergate Square with a canopied entrance into the County Stand in place of the Watergate Inn which is earmarked for demolition.
Empty offices created by the race company’s relocation to the nearby HQ building will be transformed into new customer amenities including a bar open all year round.
Tantalisingly, the racecourse is holding out the prospect of even bigger plans linked with the new entranceway but the detail is under wraps for now.
Work is well under way on the new approach.
Existing entrance gates and railings on the boundary of Watergate Square have been removed and the old box office and IT office complex demolished.
The plan is for a ground floor fully accessible new box office with a staircase leading up to a first floor bar with a new roof that reflects the character of the original building, is open all year-round and has views of the City Walls.
And the staircase will also link into the existing decked area at the rear of the County Stand providing a welcoming entrance into the Long Room.
In addition, a planning application has been lodged with Cheshire West and Chester Council to demolish the Watergate Inn which was bought from Enterprise Inns in 2016.
If approved, the pub will be replaced with a new public entrance to the County enclosure through a new canopied entrance. Watergate Square will be re-surfaced and pedestrianised with limited vehicular access.
A Chester Race Company spokesperson said: “Vacating the racecourse site paved the way for improvement works to take place and once the 2017 season concluded, work began on the main entrance to the racecourse, in time for 2018’s season start.
"Utilising the skills of the race company’s in-house operational team, this project is aimed at improving the entrance and approach to the County Stand and making use of the now vacant office buildings.”
The spokesman added: “The improvements will bring considerable benefits on race days and throughout the year and act as a precursor to the race company’s longer-term strategy and delivery of its ‘Masterplan 2018’. The race company has recently announced the masterplan strategy to its shareholders and will hold a public exhibition of the proposals at the racecourse this spring.
“The race company will endeavour to ensure key stakeholders play an integral part in the consultation and planning processes and the general public are also provided with an opportunity to view the plans and express their views.”