Chester bus depot becomes latest site earmarked for student homes in the city


David Triggs

More student homes are in the pipeline for Chester, with the city bus depot the latest site to be earmarked by developers. 

A construction company is in pre-application discussions with Cheshire West and Chester Council over the redevelopment of the Stagecoach depot between Liverpool Road and Victoria Road.

Residents will get their chance to have their say on the plans next week at a public exhibition. 

Flats housing Chester’s burgeoning student population have been springing up across Chester in recent years, changing the face of the city.

The bus depot site is only a short distance from the 121-bed Northgate Point scheme in Newtown, where planners have also approved a 150-bed development across the road despite opposition from residents. 

Elsewhere, major student complexes have gone up at Wharf View opposite Telford's Warehouse and close to Chester Railway Station, while there are smaller schemes on George Street, Delamere Street, Upper Northgate Street and also Victoria Road.

Letters were sent out to residents close to Liverpool Road and Victoria Road by developers the Watkin Jones Group, informing them of the bus depot proposal. 

One resident has already told the Leader she has concerns over the plans. 

Rosie Waterhouse said: “I moved back to Chester in 2014 – I lived and worked here in the late 1970s and early 1980s – and I’ve been astonished at the number of huge developments of student accommodation since the expansion of the university. 

“I’ve nothing against students – I’ve been a university senior lecturer in London and appreciate the dynamism they can create in a city. But I’ve been amazed by the sheer number and scale of student accommodation developments which have been approved by the council and which are, in my view, totally out of proportion in terms of scale, size, height and design for a beautiful historic city the relatively small size of Chester.

“I’ll be very interested to see the size, scale and design of this proposed new development before one can assess what impact there will be in the local area.”

The letter sent to residents by the Watkin Jones Group, which has its registered office in Bangor, North Wales, explains: “The proposal is for purpose-built managed student accommodation with associated communal and ancillary facilities (eg, common room, cycle storage, management offices).”

It does not say how many students will live there and a spokesperson for the Watkin Jones Group was unable to confirm any further details before the Leader went to press.

A preview of the draft proposals next week will ‘provide an opportunity to view the draft plans, discuss the proposals and provide comments for incorporation into the evolving design’, the letter says. 

The exhibition will be at the Northgate Arena in the foyer area on Thursday, June 22, from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.

Representatives from the Watkin Jones Group and Manchester-based Tim Groom Architects will be in attendance to discuss the proposal and to answer any questions.

The Watkin Jones Group are also behind The Towpath development at Wharf View, due to open in September. 

Bus operator Stagecoach were contacted for a comment regarding the proposals but had not responded by the time the Leader went to press.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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