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McGuirk Watson’s revised Chester racecourse plans set for approval

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A reworked grandstand for Chester’s ’Roodee’ racecourse is set for approval after the first set of proposals were dismissed on the grounds they were too tall

Cheshire West and Chester’s Planning Committee refused consent for London practice McGuirk Watson’s initial application back in March, on grounds including ‘over-dominance’ and ’impact on important views’.

McGuirkWatson submitted a revised application in June, having jettisoned plans for a multistorey car park, introducing a large public lawn and combining two key buildings into one.

Now a planning report has recommended councillors approve the Chester Race Company-backed plans when they reconvene to discuss them later this week.

’While it is accepted that the proposed buildings would result in some obstruction to views of the viaduct, the demolition of the Leverhulme Stand would provide greater opportunities for new views, which overall would provide betterment to the status quo,’ said the report.

Planning officers added that the buildings proposed under the revised plans would be ’contextually appropriate’ and overall conformed with national and local planning policy.

If approved, the scheme will see the racecourse, thought to be one of the world’s oldest, upgraded to secure its future.

The 1.8ha site is within the Chester City Centre Conservation Area and is bounded by the city’s historic walls, as well as the Grade I-listed Watergate Arch.

Mcguirkwatson chester racecourse reworked scheme 2019

McGuirkWatson’s revised Chester Racecourse masterplan (June 2019): Computer Generated Representation of Peacock Lawn from opposite side of Racecourse with Pavilion Grandstand (centre), Conference Centre (behind).

McGuirkWatson’s revised Chester Racecourse masterplan (June 2019): Peacock Lawn from opposite side of Racecourse with Pavilion Grandstand (centre), Conference Centre (behind)

Proposals in the revised masterplan for the Roodee include demolishing the existing Leverhulme Stand and replacing it with a large trackside green space to be known as the Peacock Lawn.

A six-storey pavilion grandstand would provide hospitality facilities on racedays, with a bar/café on the ground floor, restaurants on the first and sixth floors and private boxes in between.

This grandstand would be linked to a smaller events space via an atrium that would act as a winter garden. The events space would include a banqueting hall for up to 1,000 guests.

Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas said in June: ’The masterplan is very important to the future of the race company and represents a massive investment in Chester.

’The conference centre and grandstand will be a fantastic civic building for the city and, on racedays, provide a new viewing and hospitality grandstand like no other.’

Tony McGuirk, who is overseeing the design at the four-year-old practice, was previously chairman at the UK’s second-biggest practice, BDP, where he was lead architect on Aintree’s new grandstands and Number One court at Wimbledon.

McGuirk has described Chester Racecourse as ‘truly unique in the way it spills out from the city walls’.

190703 mw aj chester racecourse with models

McGuirkWatson’s revised designs for Chester Racecourse - summer 2019.

McGuirkWatson’s revised designs for Chester Racecourse - summer 2019

Project data

Location Watergate Square and Racecourse Lands, New Crane Street, City of Chester
Type of project Urban design masterplan with buildings for conference/ exhibition with sport and leisure
Client Chester Race Company
Architect and urban designer McGuirkWatson Architecture and Urban Design
Landscape architect McGuirkWatson
Planning consultant Chris Clayton with McGuirkWatson (as urban design consultant)
Structural engineer Ramboll
M&E consultant Ramboll
Quantity surveyor FWP
CDM adviser TBC
Lighting consultant Ramboll
Main contractor TBC
Funding Chester Race Company
Form of contract Initial phase: two-stage Design and Build. Other routes TBC

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