A £21m scheme to build luxury homes on the former Western Command Army site has been unanimously rejected.
Cheshire West and Chester planning committee threw out the plans, put forward by Redrow Homes and site owner Lloyds Banking Group, to build 12 detached houses and 21 apartment units on the Western Command Army site in Queen’s Park.
Officers had recommended approval of the scheme but councillors sided with English Heritage and Chester Civic Trust whose officers put foward concerns about the “unimaginative” plans on such an important site next to the River Dee.
All agreed the design was not up to scratch.
Speaking at the meeting, Andrew Pannell from Chester Civic Trust, said these designs were found in “countless schemes throughout the country” and said if this plan was approved, it would set a “precedent” for other prestigious sites in the city to have “mediocre” designs.
The scheme was called in by ward councillors Razia Daniels and Neil Sullivan who both expressed their frustration with the applicants’ refusal to present its plans for the site at a community forum in January.
Cllr Daniels said in a statement she would like to see the plans deferred so a proper public consultation could take place.
Cllr Sullivan said the plans were not “in the style of Queen’s Park” and also raised concerns about the plans to have the houses in a gated community.
Cllr Sam Dixon moved refusal of the proposal saying she was “very disappointed” by the plans put forward by Redrow. She said: “This applications affects Chester as a whole and has regional importance.
“The River Dee is why Chester is here and this view is very important. The site is surrounded by listed buildings and I do not believe the design is good enough to fit in with them.
“I was very hopeful that this would be something exciting but it is the opposite.”
Cllr Keith Butcher reminded the committee of the site’s military past. He said: “The site survived the Luftwaffe. I can only hope it survives the planners.”
Agent Justin Paul, on the applicant’s behalf, said the revised plan, which was first mooted in 2012, “introduced views through the site” and reduced the mass and scale of the initial plans and would have a “positive impact on the river front”.
However councillors disagreed and rejected the plans unanimously.