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More plans to turn ex-offices into flats.

Byline: DAVID HOLMES david.holmes01@reachplc.com @Sherlock1968

ATREND is continuing that has seen former Chester city centre offices converted into hotels and luxury apartments.

Columbia Threadneedle Investments has lodged a permitted development order application to convert the first and second floors of Royal House, Upper Northgate Street, into 16 apartments.

With eight flats on each floor, the proposal includes seven car parking spaces and 16 cycle racks. The application excludes the ground floor which is occupied by the office of Fresh Student Living, a student accommodation provider and Virtual Reality Escape, a virtual reality experience provider.

A document supporting the application states: "It is considered that the proposal will not have a material impact on the traffic in the vicinity of the site. There is likely to be a reduced number of vehicle trips, particularly in morning and evening peaks as a consequence of the proposed change of use from office to residential use.

"The site is also in the proximity of local public transport nodes and is within easy access on foot or by bicycle to the city centre and the university. It is, therefore, in a highly sustainable and accessible location within Chester city centre with excellent transport links and in walking distance of local employment, retail and leisure destinations."

Just down the hill a permitted development order application was granted to transform the headquarters of Chester-based luxury travel business ITC in Canal Street into 31 one and two-bed apartments. The conversion is almost complete with an open day on Saturday, February 29.

Luxury apartments are an alternative to redundant office space given the strong demand for city living.

The problem is there are too many poor quality and dated office buildings requiring prohibitively expensive revamps, say the experts.

At the same time, more attractive alternatives are available to businesses like One City Place by the railway station and the HQ building.

The situation isn't helped because general demand for provincial offices is down compared with bigger centres like Manchester. And austerity has led to the closure of many government buildings, flooding the market with thousands of square feet of extra space.

Some former offices have also been turned into hotels like Windsor House in Pepper Street - once home to occupiers including the Valuation Office and Crown Prosecution Service - which is now a successful Travelodge.

On the opposite side of the road, Pepper House - again, a former government occupier - will shortly open as a Premier Inn. Norroy House, which used to house the DVLA, is now occupied by Roomzzz serviced apartments.

CAPTION(S):

? A building that previously housed a Chester-based luxury travel business in Canal Street has been converted into 31 apartments.

? A permitted development order application has been submitted to turn the first and second floors of the Royal House in Upper Northgate Street, Chester, into 16 flats.

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Author:DAVID HOLMES david.holmes01@reachplc.com @Sherlock1968
Publication:The Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2020
Words:472
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