A horror experience said to have disturbed residents because of loud screaming noises has been given permission to open until midnight seven days a week.
Chester Shop of Horrors in Watergate Street is the brainchild of Ed Walley from Waverton but from day one Mr Walley raised concerns about its viability because of restricted opening hours imposed by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
However, he has now won on appeal after inspector Mark Caine, who visited the walk-through experience, was satisfied it would not cause unacceptable noise and disturbance.
He is allowing the attraction, which features automated pop-up characters in a maze lay-out, to open from 10am until midnight all week round.
However, the actual opening times are 1-5pm and 8-10pm Sunday to Thursday and 1-5pm and 8-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The inspector said the area contained a number of restaurants and pubs which opened until 2am with little evidence it would increase antisocial behaviour in the street.
Two complaints had been received but one related to building work while another referred to one isolated case of amplified screaming during the day which may have been a test.
He wrote: “I therefore consider that the increase in activity due to the proposed extended opening times would not have an unduly harmful effect on local residents’ living conditions.”
Change of name from Chester Dungeon
Chester Shop of Horrors was originally called Chester Dungeon but the name had to change following a complaint from Merlin Entertainments who already run horror attractions under the Dungeon brand.
Back in February Mr Walley told the council’s planning committee enforced 10pm closures on Fridays and Saturdays and 8pm the rest of the week were unreasonable.
But city centre councillor Samantha Dixon successfully argued in favour of retaining the existing hours or even reducing them “to protect residents from the fall-out produced by panicky, excitable people who have had a few drinks and been scared witless in a dark and confusing environment”.
She told the meeting ‘half a dozen’ residents had written to her about a disturbance on Friday January 9 about 5pm.
The letter read: “The amplified noises of screaming etc were almost deafening, scaring, in other shops, children and customers alike. One woman was about to call the police believing somebody was being attacked.”
Cllr Dixon also received a phone message from the owner of the Watergate Gallery, who described being ‘disturbed by screaming’ and ‘noticed a family in the street, which included a toddler, who was crying due to the fright experience’.