One third of the first office block in Chester’s £100m business quarter could be converted into an educational institution if plans are given the green light.
Muse Developments has lodged the change-of-use application relating to first and second floors of the newly-launched One City Place building by Chester Railway Station, which is not yet occupied.
If approved, it would mean the current office use would give way to a non-residential education establishment use on two out of six storeys.
End user being kept secret
The proposed end user is unnamed, with Muse unwilling to comment.
An accompanying document says approval would ‘help secure a prestigious educational establishment for an unoccupied office space’ and hints that older students would be involved with links to ‘professional practices’.
The University of Law, Chester, based at Christleton, said no one from the university was 'available for comments on this occasion'.
A planning statement lodged with Cheshire West and Chester Council explains: “The premises offers grade A accommodation and provides a high quality, professional environment particularly suitable for an educational institution seeking closer integration with professional practices and a central location adjacent to supporting services and amenities.”
The premises would likely comprise a reception, study areas, workshop and meeting rooms, a lecture theatre, library, informal break-out space, student coffee shop, administration offices, staff rooms and other facilities such as toilets.
The document says council planning officers regard the principle of change-of-use to education as acceptable.
It adds: “The proposals will also have a wider positive impact on the city centre supporting direct job creation and future employment potential, as well as the spin-off’ revenue benefits that additional students within the city centre will support.
“In addition, this particular use will enhance activity within the city centre and contribute towards the council’s aspiration to develop a strong evening economy.”
The document says staff and students would help sustain the viability of the Central Business Quarter which will cover more than 500,000 sq ft when complete. The two floors proposed for educational use would comprise just 4.7% of the total space.
“It is therefore clear that the proposed development will not dilute the existing mix of uses in this area, the vast majority of which will remain as B1 office use,” says the planning statement.