Dee House statement

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Following last weeks scrutiny meeting at which Dig up Deva campaigners urged the council to consult the public about the future of Dee House, the council have issued a statement.

Councillor Louise Gittins said: “We are committed to restoring the grade II listed Dee House to its former glory and improving the visitor experience to the amphitheatre.

“We know this is a highly emotive issue and that is why we have devoted many hours and much effort to fully consider and scrutinise the decision.

“Daniel Thwaites plc has proposed a high quality hotel and restaurant, to create an interpretation centre and café, and to remodel the public realm around the building, enhancing the views of the amphitheatre.

“The proposal does not involve any new build and will restore the current building to its former glory and will protect two key historic assets for future generations.

“The company has significant experience of restoring listed buildings back into beneficial use, most notably the Judges Lodgings, a grade I listed Georgian Town House in York.

“Whilst we understand that some people will be upset and angry because we cannot excavate the full amphitheatre we must be clear that this is not a viable option.  Historic England state that excavations of the buried remains of the Roman amphitheatre carried out between 2004 and 2006 showed that only fragments survive as most of the stonework had previously been removed for re-use elsewhere.

“The view of most experts is that it is also highly unlikely that further excavation will expose anything which can be displayed without a very high level of reconstruction. Most of the walls on display today are 20th century reconstructions of what was once there.

“A new hotel and restaurant will bring a significant amount of private sector investment into the city at a time of significant economic challenge.  It represents the city’s best opportunity to boost the visitor experience around the amphitheatre whilst protecting two key historic assets for future generations. “

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13 comments

  1. What a load of rubbish!!!!! The last thing this city needs is another hotel and restaurant this is money for the boys and I hope the councilers can live with what they are doing to our …… city without asking us 😡😡😡😡😡

  2. Total hogwash…. this city needs another hotel like its citizens need holes in their hearts .A city that can not fill the already abundant hotels and watering holes it has a city that has almost as many closed shops on its high streets as it does open ones. Give people a reason to come to the city and then the hotels and bars will be full . This is just another example of the blatant money garbing that goes on behind close doors , so the Council don’t own the land but you try to build or develop your property without their backing and see how far you get . someone has taken a very large (bung) can I prove this no but the whole thing stinks… To open up and expose the amphitheatre (The largest in the U.K I understand) would bring in millions …millions and in a very short space of time people would flock from the four corners just to see it….. ten years or so and then if you must (because you couldn’t stop yourselves ) build on it then but please give the people of Chester Na the World the chance to see this wonder in its full glory to lose this chance would and should be classed as a crime

    • welovepandas are you a councillor/politician or just believe everything you’re told?
      PS; Pandas are not cost effective (official) #NotInMyName

  3. I have been following this with a fair bit of interest, I have to say that there are a lot of people that I speak to agree with Tristans comments. Its happened well that a bit like Brexit isn’t it, has it or hasn’t it. But there seem to me some conflicting facts, Chester needs another Hotel? so why was the eyesore at the fountain roundabout sold to the University, I understood it was due to lack of customers???? Now given the fact that the statement from the council states rather snidely that the city walls are a reconstruct in the 20th Century and knowing what a tourist draw they are, then why not a reconstruction of the amphitheatre? I tend to agree that Chester hardly needs another Hotel.

  4. How much extra money will another hotel generate compared to a unique historical site ? The only fully excavated amphitheatre site in the UK ?
    Visiting such sites is about the visitor’s IMAGINATION…not REALITY ? The Walls are rebuilt, the Rows are rebuilt, the Cathedral is rebuilt….so…full excavation will be unique and attract many more than a hotel/ restaurant.
    All about short term political gain.

  5. Despite the fibs by the DUD campaign, Chester wouldn’t be unique in a fully excavated amphitheatre. There are many in the UK, for example Caerleon and St Albans have complete excavated amphitheatres, yet don’t bring in many tourists at all. Also Cirencester, Carmarthen and Silchester have better amphitheatre remains, heard of them? Exactly. What Chester does have is the juxtaposition of a Roman amphitheatre, medieval gem of St John’s church and the Georgian Dee House packed with history. To have that in such overlapped condition is unique though, and a brilliant selling point for the city.

    Thankfully good sense, respect for heritage and proper investment in the city have prevailed over political troublemakers and mob mentality. This announcement is great news for Chester.

  6. What I’d like to know is who set this deal up to begin with? The council can only play the cards they’re dealt. Who first came up with the idea of a 150 year lease, to a hotel chain?

    Also, you can’t ‘excavate’ the amphitheatre without destroying the archeology buried there, according to Tony Wilmott who gave the talk at the Grosvenor the other week. This is the guy who was digging up Deva in 2004, so surely his opinion matters, if you’re genuinely interested in learning from the past, and not just scoring political points on your opponents.

    What we really need is to make sure the site gets developed in a way that lets visitors, and locals, appreciate what’s really there, how old it all is, and what its significance is. It’s a bit naff if all that comes out of this is just another pub, earning lots of money for shareholders while paying staff minimum wage to cater for rich tourists.

    The whole amphitheatre site should be developed to the best of its potential. We’ll just have to make what we can out of the pub.

  7. I know each side of this debate has it’s own ideas, but the council are supposed to represent the people of Chester, and almost 19000 of those people have been completely ignored. All they asked for was a consultation, to have their voice heard, I really don’t understand why Cheshire west and Chester council are seemingly terrified of the people who pay them. The labour councillors said they wanted to be open and transparent, I would like to know why the last people to find out what the plans for Dee house were is us mugs who voted for them in the first place.

  8. Not all of those 19000 were from Chester, and even if they were it leaves another 80,000 who either didn’t agree or didn’t care (as harsh as that sounds). That makes 20% which last time I checked is no majority. Besides, those 19,000 seem to have “ignored” professional opinion. How about another petition to NOT excavate it, and keep Dee House? Lets see if that clocks up more, with the evidence, like. As much as you may not like it, there is no point excavating it. As far as points made earlier regarding the reconstruction of walls, cathedral etc are concerned, that’s not a bad idea but a lot of the wall work is done by charity, and the cathedral work is done by……

  9. But then if 19.000 people signed a petition to paint the Moon pink, should the council honour that one as well?

    Elected officials should represent the views of their public, but the public also has a responsibility to see that their views make sense.

    What else could the council have done? Demolish? It’s illegal. Excavate? Again, it’s illegal.

    The whole thing is just a big political stitch up.

    The amphitheatre site should still be developed in a historically sensitive and culturally enriching way, just with a pub tagged on into the bargain.

  10. Whilst I do not support turning Dee House into a hotel/bar the idea of digging up the other half of the amphitheatre is simply idiotic. I actually worked on the archaeological projects done there from 2004-06 and I can assure you there is absolutely no recognisable remains under there. Yes it would be fantastic to offer visitors to Chester a full amphitheater but it simply is not there anymore. All an excavation project would result in is a possibly a few new trinkets for the grosvenor museum and definitely a very expensive muddy hole in the ground that would damage the look of the existing amphitheater remains.

    Even if there was a full amphitheater (and trust me there really is not) the council currently struggles to maintain the archaeological remains it already has, just look at the state of the city walls by the northgate and the civil war trench off liverpool road which has been closed off for years. Does anybody honestly believe they should be entrusted to look after any more archaeological remains?

    The best thing that could be done is to adapt Dee House into a first class museum to bring tourists to the city. With the best will in the world The Grosvenor Museum the biggest museum in the city but it is quite dated now and not an attraction that is ever going to feature on lists of Britians best heritage attractions. Chester desperately needs a top class museum in order to draw in more visitors and Dee house would be perfect.

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