IT’S second time lucky for Chester Racecourse after councillors approved its £100 million masterplan – meaning the city is set to welcome a new conference centre.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly voted to snub the transformation plans in March.

But after the Chester Race Company went back to the drawing board, councillors praised the work done to improve on the original proposals, and the committee unanimously approved the new-look scheme at Thursday’s meeting.

Chris Clayton, project manager at the Chester Race Company, insisted the scheme – including the three-storey conference centre – is ‘crucial’ to the future of the racecourse.

He said: “The racecourse needs a new grandstand and Chester needs a new conference centre.

“We hope that you agree we have addressed the concerns raised by making some significant changes.”

Planning officer Catherine Reay agreed with Mr Clayton that it was ‘clear that great efforts have been made’ to amend the original scheme.

The new six-storey grandstand – which will replace the Leverhulme Stand – has been moved closer to the Holiday Inn, while its original waved roof design has been removed, to protect the view of the Roodee from the City Walls.

A new public lawn called Paradise Square will be available for racegoers and the public on non-racedays, while a criticised multi-storey car park has been removed from the original scheme.

Traffic to the race course will continue to use Kitchen Street, rather than Saddlery Way, following concerns from neighbouring residents.

The plans were supported by Conservative Cllr Lynn Riley and Peter Carson, of the Chester Growth Partnership, who both spoke up the opportunities that the proposal could bring.

Mr Carson said: “In our view, the successful implementation of this scheme will make an important contribution to the continued growth and prosperity of Chester city centre.

“Not only by enhancing the existing facilities for the race-going public but, more importantly, by building a state-of-the-art conference facility.

“Other racecourses in the country have made significant investments in their facilities and Chester must not get left behind.”

Cllr Jill Houlbrook, Conservative member for Upton, thanked the Chester Race Company for listening to the planning committee’s original concerns – and suggested they had left her with ‘no reason not to approve’ the plans.

She said: “They actually went away and listened to what we said in our last committee meeting, and they have done something about it, they have not just paid lip service.”

Cllr Samantha Dixon, Labour member for Chester City and Garden Quarter, added: “If you provide a bit of grit you turn an oyster into a pearl.

“I think the grit that the planning committee put into this application has led to the racecourse upping its game and responding with a pearl.”

The Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government will be given an opportunity to make a final decision on the plans.

Meanwhile, the racecourse has also secured temporary planning permission for marquees to be used before its transformation is complete.

Chester Race Company hopes to have the work completed in 2022.