Work has started on a revamp of the entrance to Chester Racecourse including a new bar and walkways.
Chester Race Company was granted planning permission last month in a vision that will see empty space repurposed following the relocation of administration staff to the nearby HQ building.
A supporting document said a vacant ground floor office will be reconfigured to form a new box office – accessible by wheelchair users for the first time – with a hospitality bar above that will be linked by a series of bridges across to the outdoor terrace at the rear of the County Stand.
A single storey 1980s building in front of the entrance will be demolished because it detracts from the architecture of the County Stand. This will free up an area that will be remodelled to form ‘a more accessible’ approach including a ramp for wheelchair users.
The future of the Watergate Inn, which was purchased by Chester Race Company, is described as ‘uncertain’ which is bound to feed into rumours suggesting the building is to be demolished although a spokeswoman said there are ‘no immediate plans for it currently’.
The document accompanying the plans states: “The Race Company has recently relocated its administrative offices into the HQ building on Nicholas Street and the old offices have become vacant. The application is to make full use of the vacant offices: a new box office at ground floor level; a new racecourse bar at first floor.
“They are aware that the entrance to the County Stand from Watergate Square is poor, particularly because access for wheelchairs and buggies is difficult.
“The application, involving the conversion of the former offices and relocation of the box office, has presented an opportunity to also upgrade the entrance.”
The roof of the new bar will be completely redesigned to ‘reflect the rhythm and appearance’ of the original building to which it is attached.
In addition, a tree growing between the City Walls and the building is being removed because it is causing problems to the structure and roof of the premises and potentially to the historic walls.