News Article

Plans approved for Chester hotel and spa with rooftop pool

8 April 2021

Plans have been approved to convert empty offices by The Cross in Chester into a boutique hotel and spa – complete with a rooftop pool.

The proposal also includes a bar and restaurant with outdoor seating on the historic Rows as well as a lift tower and roof terrace.

The Wildes Hotel Group are behind the scheme, having submitted both full planning and listed building consent applications more than a year ago.

It has acquired a 999-year lease on one element of the prominent and historic property and freehold on another. The lease is for a peppercorn rent. 

The site spans 2-8 Bridge Street, 2-8 Bridge Street Row West, and 3 Watergate Street. 

In a report recommending approval, council case officer Gail Nickson said: "It is proposed to change the use of the upper levels of the building to a boutique hotel including bar, restaurant and spa. 

"A number of internal and external alterations are proposed, including the addition of a lift tower from ground floor to the roof level, roof terrace and swimming pool to the roof area. It is also proposed to have an external dining area to the Rows. 

"It is proposed that the existing ground floor level retail units will remain as the main changes to the building are from Row level and above. 

"At present the building is vacant from Row level and above having previously been used as an office space. The building has been vacant since 2013 when it was last used as an office for an estate agent and has been extensively marketed.

"The proposed new use will still provide employment in the form of hotel staff, spa staff, restaurant staff and bar staff and as such creates job opportunities across a number of sectors whilst bringing this largely vacant building back into use again." 

"The development would also bring economic benefits through an enhanced visitor offer." 

Both Historic England and the Victorian Society had raised issues over the plans, which have been amended by the applicant following extensive discussions. 

Mrs Nickson explained: "The amended plans have been examined by Historic England and they have commented to say that the main part of the scheme that they previously had concerns with was the loss of the existing outrigger to the rear of the building as the loss of this section of building was not adequately justified. 

"The amended plans now seek to retain the majority of this rear section, retaining its original fabric and planned form and so Historic England can now fully support this aspect. 

"One area of concern raised by the Victorian Society and a concern shared by Historic England was in relation to the proposed introduction of a structure on the rooftop of the building to serve the proposed lift shaft for the building. 

"The applicant commissioned a piece of work to demonstrate how this will appear from different key views within the city and surroundings. 

"Historic England have stated that the views analysis was welcomed and demonstrates through positioning the lift towards the rear of the building, and the surrounding roof forms, that it would not be visible in any key view. 

"This works helps remove the concern raised by Historic England but no further comment has been received from the Victorian Society. 

"The interventions to the listed building have been sensitively thought about and are considerate to the building and the wider conservation area. The low levels of harm identified can be outweighed by the identified public benefits." 

The Grade II-listed building was developed in 1892 by architect Thomas M Lockwood and features huge fireplaces, stone windows and original beams. 

Unveiling the plans last year, The Wildes Hotel Group said the ground floor will be home to Benedict’s, a contemporary restaurant and centerpiece bar serving all-day food, drinks and cocktails. In addition, guests will be able to enjoy food and drinks outdoors on the Rows from fully heated banquettes. 

The 16 bedrooms will all be unique with free-standing furnishings to allow the original building and its features to ‘breathe’. 

Each will house quirky elements such as a free-standing bathtub with skylight for guests to enjoy the night sky in style. 

One of the rooms will even feature its own four-seater cinema. 

The first floor will see a state-of-the-art spa featuring a relaxation area, nail bar and multiple treatment rooms. 

The roof of the hotel will be home to the much-anticipated rooftop pool and terrace where guests can enjoy views across the city.

(via Chester Standard)