PLANNING chiefs have unanimously approved the first phase of a huge new business quarter in Chester.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) believes the developer-led scheme has the potential to deliver thousands of jobs and provide a major boost to the economy.
Set to be built in stages over the next 15 years, the Chester Central Business Quarter will be based on land between Chester Railway Station and Charterhall Drive.
Muse Developments has been granted full planning permission for phase one which includes six-storey office block.
An outline masterplan for the rest of the site which would be a mixed-use scheme with 200 apartments, restaurants, cafes and bars has also been approved by the CWaC strategic planning committee.
Phil Mayall of Muse Developments told the meeting: “The scheme will deliver significant benefits to the city.
“We believe the scheme is he genuinely ground breaking for Chester.
“We want to, if I can put it bluntly, get on with it. We feel it is the right thing for the city.”
Cllr David Robinson, who represents Boughton, said he was concerned over the height of some of the buildings and the potential traffic impact but generally welcomed the development.
He said: “The site clearly has the potential for being one of the economic powerhouse of the sub-region.”
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said it was an “exciting development” for both Chester and west Cheshire.
He said: “We have been working hard at this for a number of years and trying to ensure we get the right development and ensure we bring jobs into the city.
“We need to keep moving forward at a pace. People are here willing to invest money in Cheshire West, invest in jobs and invest in the future.”
Planning officers said the applicants were seeking full planning permission for the first office block but each remaining phase would be subject to separate detailed applications.
They said this meant the council would be able to ensure proper traffic arrangements and appropriate levels of affordable housing were in place, and the scale of the development was acceptable.
Committee members approved the application subject to conditions.
They also approved public realm improvements at the entrance to the site and alterations to some listed buildings, although both those applications were made by CWaC and need final approval from secretary of state Eric Pickles.
A BUNKER built during the Second World War faces demolition despite being classed as ‘regionally important’.
Planning officers recommended demolishing the concrete bunker because the structure would negatively impact on the entrance to the Chester Central Business Quarter.
Strategic planning committee members agreed, despite being warned they could be seen as committing “municipal vandalism” by Boughton councillor David Robinson.
“The bunker is actually tucked away and it’s not particularly visible,” he said.
“Yes it is concrete - that’s what bunkers generally are. They were not designed to be archaeological gems.
“This is really part of our heritage.”
Cllr Robinson said the council archaeologist was against the bunker being knocked down and English Heritage said ‘robust justification’ needed to be shown in order to demolish the bunker.
He said: “You have not made one. You have said ‘it’s concrete - don’t like it’.”
Cllr Jill Houlbrook, who supported the demolition, said she had visited the site and did not feel the bunker was worth keeping.
“I think we were all expecting something rather interesting and exciting but what we found was an empty concrete building,” she said.
“It seems to me to have little intrinsic historical value.”
Aerial photographs showing the bunker had been taken by the Luftwaffe in 1940 but the committee approved demolition.
“If the Luftwaffe did not think it was worth destroying, then I am sure we can,” said Cllr Brian Clarke.
Secretary of state Eric Pickles has to give final approval for the demolition.