AMBITIOUS multi-million pound plans to create a new dining district in Chester city centre have been given the go ahead.
Developers plan to turn Pepper Street into a vibrant restaurant quarter creating scores of new jobs and boosting the city’s night-time economy.
High-profile restaurateurs and leading chains are understood to have shown significant interest in the development and work could start by the end of the year.
In the past Chester has been criticised for the lack of variation in the city in the evening and has been accused of being too reliant on night-time drinking.
But it is hoped the new dining district and other developments including the £40.5 million theatre and culture complex will attract more evening visitors.
Under the plans, the former Habitat and Multiyork stores will be transformed into a modern glass-fronted venue housing four large restaurants complete with alfresco dining.
Grosvenor Shopping Centre owners Bride Hall and private equity giant The Carlyle Group are behind the ambitious scheme.
Bride Hall director Roger Gorham said: “This is a very exciting development opportunity and we’re very pleased to receive planning permission.
“We’re looking forward to announcing tenants for the proposed new units in due course.
“These forward-looking plans have been designed to meet the growth in demand for choice and quality.
“The outcome will be a cluster of quality food offers that will inject even more new life in the city centre and benefit the wider Chester economy.”
Blackhouse Grill, Piccolino and Zizzi are all based opposite the proposed restaurants and developers hope the area will become the prime dining destination in the city.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has approved the plans despite objections from some residents in nearby Volunteer Street.
Concerns were raised over the lack of parking and potential increase in drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour. But planning officers said the proposed opening hours of 8am to midnight from Monday to Saturday and 8am to 11pm on Sunday were reasonable and the scheme would improve the “vitality and viability” of the area.
See full story in the Chester Leader