The Council have announced that the stabilisation of Dee House in Chester will be carried out this year, following a £500,000 investment. Say CWAC: ” This work is the important first step in the development of the building and securing its long term future. It will enable safe access for the first time in many years, so that further work can take place which will bring the building back into use.”
The first phase of the project is intended to attract private investment which will hopefully result in full refurbishment of the decaying historic building. The news follows the conclusions reported last year by the Dee House and Amphitheatre Working Group to the Council on the building’s future. The group said the building should be redeveloped, allow community access, offer heritage interpretation, and be developed using a public and private partnership. The working group membership includes representatives from the Chester Growth Partnership, Cheshire West and Chester Council members from across the political spectrum, the Chester Archaeological Society, Chester Civic Trust, Chester Attraction Partnership, , Big Heritage, Dig Up Deva, a Chester University archaeological student, Cheshire West and Chester Council officers, and Historic England in an advisory capacity. Despite the expert recommendations , many vocal critics continue to argue that the building should be demolished to “fully expose the amphitheatre”- an option deemed unviable by the group last year.
The group reconvened its monthly meetings virtually last month and will now meet regularly to oversee the redevelopment project in partnership with the Council. The group will continue to be chaired by Andy Foster on behalf of the Chester Growth Partnership. Andy Foster said: “In our recommendations to the Council last year, our working group concluded that Dee House should be retained and redeveloped so that the public can enjoy its unique character and location for many years to come, while also preserving this important historic site.
“We would like to thank those who took part in our discussions, attended our presentation events and offered feedback on our recommendations, which were received favourably by many. The Council has taken our recommendations on board and is committing to investing in Dee House.
“Our working group will continue to meet and work with the Council this year to ensure the recommendations are factored into the building’s redevelopment, investment options from external partners are explored and, ultimately, the public benefit from the building in the future.”
Councillor Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The working group’s recommendations reflect the collective thinking of its diverse membership, who had different views before they first met in 2019. The Council supports these recommendations to retain Dee House and improve it for everyone to enjoy in the future and is committing financially to funding the start of redevelopment work from its capital programme.
“It is important that work begins as soon as possible on the stabilisation work and we will be doubling efforts to ensure this happens. We will continue to keep residents informed of progress at every stage of this project.”