LEADWORKS (SHOT TOWER) DEVELOPMENT
Planning Application 12/01543/FUL
OBJECTION BY CHESTER CIVIC TRUST
In principle CCT welcomes proposals to redevelop the Leadworks with significant affordable housing. The Trust is, nevertheless, forced to object to this application.
The scheme has two major faults. Firstly, it conflicts with the historic and visual character of the canalside and with the policies and briefs developed to guide the area’s regeneration. It fails to conform to Chester Local Plan policies ENV35, ENV44 and ENV45. These demand a high quality of design that has regard to the special qualities of the canalside locality. Red-brown brick was the traditional building material in the area, including the Leadworks. The use of alien materials and colouring in the scheme conflicts with the traditional character. The concept of reflecting the Leadworks heritage by using lead-coloured materials in a ‘contemporary industrial building … used for residential accommodation’ is crude and simplistic. It will produce a brutal and gloomy development that looms over the waterfront. A positive frontage to the waterside is needed but the scheme presents two ‘extruded blank gables’ to the canal. Very few of the residents will even be able to see the waterway. The elevations generally are out of keeping with adjacent buildings and exaggerate the mass of the scheme.
Secondly, the scheme has many faults even on its own terms. In summary these are:-
* The use of deck access flats facing across a narrow central court creates a barrack-like appearance. It is a throwback to the tenements built in the slum-clearance schemes of the past. The deck access and ‘defendable space’ will result in much-reduced natural lighting and will severely restrict views out of the windows. This will prevent the ‘passive surveillance’ of the courtyard envisaged by the developers.
*Deck access flats have a bad record in terms of anti-social behaviour. Why should this scheme be any different?
* There is a need for more family accommodation in CCHT’s housing in Chester, but this scheme makes little contribution to solving the problem. Where would the children play?
* The design depends on a new bridge across the canal, but the developers cannot guarantee this will actually be built.
* The concept of two parallel blocks sits uncomfortably with the splayed lines of the proposed Waitrose development. It will create a narrow, pinched, appearance.
* The commercial element of the scheme seems excessive and its success uncertain.
* Despite its centrality to the scheme, the proposals for the use and continued maintenance of the Shot Tower are vague.
* The landscaping proposals are unimaginative and likely to lead to a sterile and uninteresting space.
* The car-parking layout seems awkward.
In summary, the proposed scheme is ugly and unsympathetic. It would be unpleasant to live in. These views emerged during pre-application consultation but were ignored or rejected by the developers. CCT urges the LPA to refuse the application and seek something more in tune with the area’s needs.
Chester Civic Trust welcomes the opinions of others but no comments by the General Public posted on this website should be read as being endorsed by, or supported by, the Chester Civic Trust unless specifically stated.