An application has been lodged to demolish the existing dilapidated boathouse at Sandy Lane and erect a larger community rowing and fitness facility in its place.
Retired civil servant Roger Atkinson OBE, of Dee Banks, describes as “monstrous” the aesthetics of the proposed building, which would also involve removing a tree.
He said: “You’re going to get river boats coming up packed with tourists who will get this horrendous view. People will say we’ll go to Bath or York instead next time – Chester doesn’t care about its river.”
Residents also fear the extra traffic and parking it will generate in an area already plagued by congestion. Some wonder why the university can’t share a proposed £1.3m rowing facility being pursued by the Royal Chester Rowing Club nearby.
“The traffic has become so dangerous,” said Patricia Green, of Dee Banks, adding: “It will set a precedent. Other people will be looking at their water gardens and thinking ‘Oh well, perhaps we could sell it off and somebody could build something there’. I was a student at the college and my husband taught there for 25 years so I’m not anti university.
“I think it’s great to have a university but they need to think about the environment they are likely to disturb.”
David Morris, of Dee Banks, said: “They are planning to come here at 6.30am. I want to know where the vice chancellor lives so when they start making a racket, I can go outside in my car, outside the Vice Chancellor’s house at 6.30am, and ‘beep!’”
Heather Witter, whose river garden is next door to the proposed boathouse, said: “If that goes up it’s going to destroy over 20 years of gardening. We put a lot of work into it and people love it.”
The university wants to create first class rowing facilities to increase participation and possibly establish a North West University Boat Race. There would be boat storage at ground floor with changing rooms, showers and a training room on the first floor.
At the moment the university’s 75-strong rowing club is hosted by the Grosvenor Rowing Club but Grosvenor is expanding and can no longer accommodate its equipment or access requirements.