CHESTER’S Georgian Dee House could be converted into a hotel to help create an “inspirational experience” for visitors to the amphitheatre which it overlooks.
A boutique hotel located within the empty Grade II listed building could prevent it crumbling, with the developer asked to make a contribution towards a scheme aimed at transforming the amphitheatre into a must-see visitor attraction.
It is one option being explored as part of a proposal to involve the private sector in funding improvements at the Roman site which has failed to fulfil its potential because it is trapped within the urban landscape and isolated by the busy inner ring road.
The North West Development Agency has also stumped up cash for an impact study to assess the effects of restricting or at least slowing traffic on that section of the ring road to make the setting more pleasant.
This week English Heritage was examining a draft brief for the amphitheatre with a vision to “provide an inspirational experience” and “an exciting starting point” for visitors to the city.
The brief will be further developed through a workshop headed by Chester Renaissance and key stakeholders with a view to launching a private sector-led competition to identify a winning tender.
The remit at the moment is deliberately open to encourage creative-thinking but the vision could include a visitor centre or a performance space for mock gladiatorial battles and concerts.
Projects team manager Richard Spensley said: “It’s very much about trying to find a viable future for the amphitheatre. We are talking about a must-see visitor facility about the Romans in Chester. In very simple terms, that’s what we are looking at.
“It’s quite a complex and sensitive matter because of the nature of the site.”