PLANS to demolish a Chester music venue and replace it was an apartment complex have been rejected.

Refusal for the proposed development at the site of The Live Rooms on Station Road was confirmed by Cheshire West and Chester Council today (November 15).

A full planning application to knock down the premises – known as Homer House – and replace it with 17 apartments was lodged on behalf of the applicant, Carlton (North Wales) Ltd, back in March last year.

It stated at the time: "The building is currently in very poor condition and would need significant investment for its continued use.

"The current tenant is now struggling to run a profitable business as a live music venue and has previously advised that the venue is too small to attract the large acts required to make it a success; struggling to compete with other venues across the North West who can secure larger music acts.

"Conversely, it is also too large to compete with some of the smaller venues in Chester who do successfully run live music/comedy nights."

However, in a report recommending refusal, the council's case officer Jo Redmond states that the applicant had failed to demonstrate "that there is no longer a need for the facility" and that it "is not capable of continued use for the existing purpose".

She explained: "The website for The Live Rooms states that they are 'Chester’s largest independent live music venue and nightclub'.

"The popularity of the venue is clear given the upcoming planned events and recent commentary on social media (Facebook), with 4.3 out of 5 stating they would recommend The Live Rooms.

"There is also a crowdfunding page named 'SaveourVenues – The Live Rooms' which has 65 supporters and £1,055 raised at the time of writing this report.

"It was set up to help cover costs whilst the venue had to close due to Covid-19.

"Whilst the applicant states that Chester provides other live music venues, and that significant objections have not been lodged against the development, taking into account the above, it is clear that there is a large amount of community demand for The Live Rooms and it is not currently considered surplus to their needs."

Mrs Redmond added: "The current business (The Live Rooms) opened in 2013 and the applicant states that the current tenant is struggling to run a profitable business.

"The applicant’s case has been reviewed by an independent firm of surveyors/property consultants. As the facility remains operational, it is clearly capable of continued use, and the website’s advertisement of planned events for the next year, further suggests the business’ future viability.

"Insufficient information has been submitted to demonstrate that the tenants are not upholding the covenants of the lease."

Three letters of objection were received during the two public consultation periods, with concerns raised including the plans having a "negative impact on Chester’s culture" and the belief that The Live Rooms "is the only venue with the space and facilities to regularly attract national and international touring acts".

The highways department also objected to the proposal on the basis that the level of parking would be "well below the minimum parking standards".

Mrs Redmond concluded in her report: "The scheme would provide 17 apartments within a city centre location resulting in some economic and social benefits.

"Although the apartments would be located in settlement, the loss of the community facility has not been demonstrated to be acceptable. No alternative facilities have been proposed or provided to compensate for the loss of the community facility.

"The development would also generate a demand for parking and with insufficient off street parking proposed, it is likely to result in some increased parking congestion on local streets, which would impact on highway safety and local amenity.

"Overall, it is considered that the benefits of the scheme would not be outweighed by the harm."