A £6m youth centre could be on the way for Chester city centre.

But it would mean demolishing the listed Ship Victory pub which the council leaseholders closed at new year.

The OnSide charity has confirmed talks are taking place with Cheshire West and Chester Council about the potential for a ‘Youth Zone’ in Chester, near the proposed new bus station at Gorse Stacks.

Council leader Mike Jones told Chester radio station Dee 106.3: “We have made some substantial changes to our youth services but there has been no reduction since April 2012.

“Prior to that we were spending millions and we just didn’t believe we were getting value for money and we are now looking at a very different way and part of our budget consultation is how do we change the way we deliver these services. Do we create some hubs, some children zones, youth zones?

“We are certainly looking at one. There’s an organisation that wants to put one in Chester near the bus station. We are looking at that.

“It does potentially mean demolishing the Ship Victory pub which is now closed. I personally don't fancy that idea myself because I think it’s a lovely old building and I think we can do something around it.”

Cllr Jones said the Youth Zone plan would go out to consultation followed by a planning application. He said reaction to the demolition option may guide the design of the scheme.

He added: “We are certainly looking at one (Youth Zone) for Ellesmere Port. And we are looking at how we can develop facilities in Winsford and Northwich. And I think Neston and Frodsham particularly, probably want something similar as well.”

Rebecca Baron, a spokeswoman for OnSide, explained that Youth Zones cater for eight to 19-year-olds – up to 25 year-olds for young people with disabilities.

A core team of paid staff are supported by volunteers to facilitate sport and outdoor activities, art work, sexual health advice, mentoring and careers support.

The centres cost about £6m to build and £1m a year to run. The local authority is asked to find 40% of the annual bill, with 50% private sector funding and a 10% contribution from the young people themselves through membership and entry fees.  

There are currently six Youth Zones, with plans to operate 20 by 2020 including a new Youth Zone at Birkenhead, due to open in early 2016.