A MASSIVE revamp aims to breathe new life into a section of Chester's historic Rows, upgrade a city centre bar and restaurant, and build a new hotel.

Chester Race company has applied to Cheshire West and Chester Council for a significant overhaul at the rear of Commonhall St Social and a largely empty building on Bridge Street, creating two apartments, eight hotel rooms and revamping the terraced area at the back of the bar.

The plans would see part of No.22 Bridge Street, a Grade II-listed building, converted into apartments on the upper floors, with the rear terrace of Commonhall St Social providing the entrance to the new hotel at a presently empty warehouse building between the bar terrace and the back of Bridge Street. A new pizza kitchen and raised bar area would also be installed on the bar's rear terrace, which will have a retractable canopy.

The existing toilet block and storage areas at the rear of the terraced area, created many years ago, would be demolished.

Planners add the existing Suzie K @ The Secret Garden retail space on the ground floor of Bridge Street would be retained and refurbished.

The two proposed apartments would extend to but not access the hotel development, and would each have three bedrooms with integral home office space.

Also revamped would be a proposed communal bin store in the rear alleyway, serving adjacent properties, amid security and anti-social behaviour concerns. A design and access statement states the the bin storage is "unsightly and unkempt" presently and the applicants, "with no commercial return from considerable investment, see the refurbishment of the bin store and alleyway as a positive commitment to the city and locality".

In an economic statement, Timothy Kenney, partner at Kenney Moore property consultants, has explained to the local authority how the proposals could bring a boost to the Bridge Street Row, which has seen a significant decline in pedestrian footfall and trade in recent years.

This has not been helped by delays to the nearly Wildes Hotel project, partly due to sensitivities in the scheme but also because it was discovered No.10 Bridge Street row's walkway was crumbling into the shop, with repairs since agreed between Wildes and the council. However, that has meant restrictions along the row.

Mr Kenney explained at present, Bridge Street's western row is "the most challenged of all the rows in terms of commercial viability", being an unbroken row from the Chester Cross which "doesn't 'go' anywhere", with most units not open to the public on Row level, including the former Slater Menswear store at No.44 which has been empty for over 10 years and despite "constant" marketing is "unable to generate any interest".

He added that a conversion of the Bridge Street Row from retail space to apartments is required as currently there is "no demand for general shop uses along here, because shops need passing trade, and so we have to look for more varied and appropriate uses for these spaces".

The application will be decided by the council at a later date.