CHESTER Civic Trust has announced the winners – and in some cases the losers – in its annual 'Good, Bad and Ugly' awards for the city.

Now in its 15th year, the awards put Chester’s buildings, places, spaces and projects under the microscope in an alternative New Year Honours list.

The aim is to highlight the best examples of new development, renovation of existing buildings and community projects, as well as encouraging higher standards of design and maintenance.

Nick Clarke, chairman of the judging panel and Partner at law firm Aaron and Partners, said: "These annual awards are based on nominations from our members.

"They aim to recognise the best changes to the Chester scene in the past year. We hope they will encourage higher standards of design and maintenance in our public realm.

"Despite the pandemic the judges were pleased to receive a similar number of nominations overall as in previous years, however, fewer building projects nominated in the good category which may be reflective of the delays in construction work.

"As always, I would like to thank my fellow judges for their time and commitment in assessing the nominations and providing intelligent and well considered feedback. It’s always a pleasure to work with knowledgeable and committed people in whatever field and this is no exception."

Chester Civic Trust, which celebrated its Diamond Jubilee last year, voted as follows:

Chair’s Award: The Hoole Alexandra Park Insect Homes and Interpretation Boards

The judges said: "This was the only project that won unanimous praise from the Judges without reservation. The panel felt this was a brilliantly conceived project that had been exceptionally well executed.

"The homes themselves are sculptural in design and provide a superb ecological and educational resource that are a blueprint for what can be achieved in suburban parks."

Chester and District Standard:

The Good: Place for the Arts

The judges said: "This was a good example of what can be achieved through a good idea, the drive to carry it through and local co-operation."

The Good: Alignment of the Shot Tower with the Moxy Hotel and Waitrose buildings

The judges said: "The way the Shot Tower is framed by the Moxy Hotel and Waitrose buildings when viewed from Boughton. The view and perspective created is, in the view of the panel, tremendous though some criticism regarding lack of sense of place regarding the entrances to the two framing buildings was noted."

Chester and District Standard:

The Good (Commended): Renovation work on the City Walls at Northgate and Watergate

The judges said: "The works have been completed to a high standard that is a credit to the council though the delay in completing the work, while perhaps understandable in the current situation, is nonetheless regrettable."

The Good (Commended): The Thomas Brassey Interpretation Panel at the railway station

The Bad and Ugly: Maintenance of buildings in the city centre

Last year the judges highlighted the maintenance and cleanliness of the Rows again. This year they expanded this to the whole city centre. The juges noted: "Our hope in raising nominations in this category was that it would act as a prompt for improvement, but unfortunately things have got worse in this regard.

"The pandemic might be offered as the reason for some of the more recent neglect but whatever the cause, it is a situation that needs to be taken in hand quickly to avoid further deterioration which in turn makes the problem much harder to address."

It adds that the gateways into the city continue to be of concern.

Chester and District Standard:

The Bad and Ugly: Hoole Bridge

Judges noted the bridge as "very unattractive".

The Bad and Ugly: Landscaping of the Sainsbury's hamburger junction

The judges said: "The landscaping lacks any design or imagination. The roundabout it replaced was home to mature trees and was attractive; not so its replacement. In addition, the multiplicity of traffic lights on nearly every approach is confusing and the proliferation of advice, warning and direction signs, together with lane signage, makes them effectively unreadable."

Round-up: A third theme thrown up by this year’s nominations was the arrival of "gated communities" in the city.

The judges were referred to one such development, Alexandra Mews in Handbridge, and while the panel thought there were some "particularly unfortunate design issues", the general view was that gated communities were not in keeping with the area, and are a trend to be discouraged, not least from the perspective of the potential harm to the sense of local community.

Other nominations that the judges considered worthy of mention included the removal of gardens in the area behind Bouverie Street, Denbigh Street and Cheyney Road.

The gardens have been dug up to facilitate car parking. Judges claimed they looked "unfinished" and "an unpleasant mess".

The trust added: "The proliferation of anti-terrorist barriers around the city were considered ugly, particularly the glut of signage around and about them.

Chester and District Standard:

"Likewise, the south west porch entrance to the Cathedral was considered an unwelcome development though it is, we are told, temporary which slightly mitigated the panel’s concerns.

"The judges considered that the shop frontage of Kingdom of Sweets richly deserved its multiple ugly nominations. The final Bad/Ugly award went to the rear of the Grosvenor precinct facing Pepper Street.

"The building has never been what you might call attractive but the recent works seem to draw greater attention to that fact."