THE redevelopment of an historic Chester landmark has approval.
But the number of affordable homes in the scheme has been hit by the credit crunch.
The revised plans have been put forward at Chester Leadworks in Boughton by Property Regeneration Chester Ltd.
They involve an economic re-use of the grade two star listed shot tower building for offices, residential and restaurant/cafe space, councillors heard.
The canalside scheme includes 33 dwellings, four of which - down from a previously accepted seven - will be affordable, reflecting falling property values.
The shot tower building itself will have a four storey extension with the shot tower being used to provide a main entrance to upper floor flats, the other being from the canalside frontage.
Previous plans for the development were agreed in 2007 and city planners say the revised scheme is "very similar" although changes have been made to the design and layout partly to meet the requirements of the main prospective commercial occupier.
In the current economic climate, they feel there is a greater likelihood of it being developed with the reduced number of affordable homes.
This would enable the restoration and re-use of the shot tower complex for which there is said to be special circumstances which justify approval.
Changes to the scheme follow discussions with the council's planning and conservation officers and buildings which are to be demolished do not have sufficient merit to justify their retention, according to a report.
The development will provide "an innovative restoration and a viable re-use of the redundant grade two star listed former shot tower building" together with an appropriate frontage to the canalside.
There will be 2,500sq m of office space with 26 two-bedroom apartments and seven one bedroom flats.
Recommending the application should be approved, planning officers said the development would not have any detrimental effect on features of special interest or the setting of the leadworks building or the character or appearance of the conservation area.
Principal planning officer Steve Lewis told the city's planning board that updated financial information had been provided by the developers which would only reasonably support four affordable homes.
"We have to take account of the current financial scene," he suggested.
Boughton Heath City Cllr Jim Latham (Lib Dem) said he was "concerned" in the reduction in the number of affordable dwellings.
He suggested the council would have to change its policy of seeking 40% affordable if the state of the economy was to be taken into account.
Cllr Latham accepted, however, that the scheme would be "a great improvement."
"We are exceedingly fortunate with what is happening on this site.
"No developer would take it on", suggested planning chairman Cllr Andrew Storrar (Con, Saughall.)
"The sooner the better," he commented.
"This is a nationally important listed building begging for someone to take it on," commented development control manager Fiona Edwards.
She revealed there was a possible occupier for the shot tower itself.
Planning deputy chairman Cllr Barbara Roberts (Con, Tarvin) moved approval and suggested there were special circumstances including the amount of contamination the developer had to contend with.
The application was agreed on a 12-0 vote with one abstention.