Red-faced council bosses admit giant ‘To Let’ signs on the outside of its HQ building had to be removed because they broke planning rules.
Cash-strapped Cheshire West and Chester Council is renting out office space in HQ in a bid to save £2.4m over the next four years.
And in July it was revealed North West commercial property consultancy Legat Owen had been instructed to market 55,000 square feet of Chester’s iconic office building. Two giant ‘To Let’ signs soon appeared on the outside of building but mysteriously disappeared just days later.
The Chronicle enquired as to whether the space had been snapped up already.
But a spokeswoman said: “The large ‘To Let’ sign on the HQ building contravened planning regulations, so the marketing agency Legat Owen are in the process of creating a smaller sign, which will be reinstated on the building very soon.”
Government rules state people and organisations may need to apply for advertisement consent to display an ad bigger than 0.3 square metres (or any size if illuminated) on the front of, or outside, their property.
It adds: “Temporary notices up to 0.6 square metres relating to local events, such as street parties and concerts, may also be displayed for a short period. There are different rules for estate agents’ boards, but, in general, these should not be bigger than 0.5 square metres.”
Chester Race Company moved into HQ earlier this year, taking over 700 square metres of space on the fourth floor overlooking the racecourse. And legal firm Knights is relocating from Cuppin Street to HQ in the near future. An application has been lodged for a permanent ‘HQ’ sign on the front of the building to reflect the changes.
Council staff are relocating to other corporate buildings across the borough in a phased programme with increased numbers due to work remotely from home.
The council will maintain a smaller presence in Chester at Nicholas House and Goldsmith House but it seems unlikely the headquarters function will remain in the city.
Legat Owen director Will Sadler is confident HQ will prove popular with potential new occupants.
He said: “Chester HQ is an exceptional scheme and the council’s decision is timely in light of the high demand we are currently experiencing in the city centre for quality grade A office space. With City Place performing well in the area and sizeable requirements hovering, we anticipate strong interest in the eye-catching property, with enquiries already coming in.
“We have a long standing working relationship with the council and we look forward to using our local market expertise to ensure we re-let the space with high calibre occupiers.”