WORK on a new rooftop hospitality venue in the heart of Chester, at the top of a multi-storey car park, looks set to begin soon after it secured licensing approval.

The venue at the top of Pepper Street Car Park had obtained planning permission from Cheshire West and Chester Council in September this year, and this has now been followed with approval at the local authority's licensing committee.

The application – submitted by Grosvenor and iKO Events Ltd – had concerns raised over noise and loss of parking, with a total of 20 objections received from the public, including from the Almhouses of William Jones Charity and the Bridgegate East Residents Association (BERA). A petition signed by 209 people opposing the scheme was also submitted.

The application was initially made to cover a period five years, but planning officers reduced that to three to monitor the development in light of the received objections. Proposed opening hours changed from an original 11pm finish to 10pm, which iKO has said would make it one of the earliest city centre hospitality venues to close for the day.

Activities planned for the rooftop destination include family-friendly games such as cornhole, lane shuffle and pétanque, plus fitness and well-being activities, as well as food and drink offerings with cabana styled covered seating areas.

The venue will also offer experiences such as a silent cinema, pop-up craft fairs for local artisan makers and in the winter, igloos and curling.

The plans, inspired by several similar and successful schemes in London, were developed by Grosvenor’s Eaton Estate and award-winning hospitality operator iKO Projects.

It is planned for the venue to open in 2024. It will create 50 jobs and has been granted consent for an initial period of three years.

Planners add the venue will be compliant for people with disabilities and access to the space will be from the lift and staircase fronting Pepper Street, meaning that the other floors will be unaffected and will continue to operate as a car park. 

Nigel Driver, head of commercial property management, Grosvenor’s Eaton Estate, which manages and works to improve a range of agricultural, residential and commercial properties in rural Cheshire and parts of Chester city centre, said: “We are delighted our plans for a new, diverse and unique space for people in Chester to enjoy have been approved.

"We believe these plans will enhance the city’s offering and contribute to its economic vibrancy. We have received all the necessary approvals, including agreement from the fire, police and environmental health authorities, and we look forward to working with our partners iKO Projects to deliver this exciting development in 2024.”

Ian Gordon, an award-winning hospitality operator with over 25 years’ experience in the sector, who will oversee the venue, added: “We’re really excited by the opportunity to develop a truly unique location, not just in Chester but the wider region.

"The focus from the beginning has been on bringing people together for good times, fantastic food and great drinks in an alfresco environment, hidden in plain sight in the city centre.

"We’ve built an excellent reputation with both guests and the licensing authorities and we look forward to developing a standout experience for people in Chester and beyond.”