Residents will be delighted that The Council is beginning its new programme of investment in Chester Rows. These distinctive first floor walkways are unique to the city and are due to be surveyed by specialist heritage contractor Grosvenor Construction as a part of the Historic England High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme. The award of funding for the Heritage Action Zone was first announced in September 2019 with the launch then delayed by the pandemic. Relaunched in September 2020, one year later the “Initial investigations” are set to begin and will take six weeks to complete.
Grosvenor Construction will be investigating the walkways, ceilings, stall board areas, balustrades, and steps. The works will take place on the walkway and stalls in front of 8 and 16-18 Bridge Street Row West. Further work is planned to begin in early 2022 on a wider area.
Businesses and residents located on the Rows have received a letter explaining the planned works. In order to minimise disruption, the Rows walkways in these area will remain open at all times whilst the survey takes place.
The aim of the project is to help revive the area and find new purposes for the historic buildings in the light of many challenges over the past few years.
Chester’s High Street Heritage Action Zone project will include making physical changes to the Rows to allow them to be presented at their best to all who work, live and visit there. Improvements being considered include restoring or enhancing the visual appearance of the buildings and making areas more functional and safer.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration said: “The Chester Rows are a historically significant and highly sensitive area. Protecting them and enlivening them is a key priority for the council, because the Rows are one of the great prides of our city.
“It’s no secret that high streets are changing as consumer trends shift, but with Chester experiencing a real revival in independent businesses work on The Rows is really important. Historic England are running a campaign asking the country about what the future of high streets could be. You can follow them on social media as they ask the question this week ‘What do you love about your high street?’
Since last year there has been a cultural programme pilot scheme, photographers in residence and a series of temporary pop-up shops opened by Place for Arts Chester bringing together artists using empty units. However the announced return of “Chester Unlocked” (https://thechesterblog.com/2021/03/25/chester-unlocked-returns-this-summer/) which was trailed in March will now NOT be taking place.
Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s North West Regional Director, said: “Chester’s Rows are a very special part of the city, unique to Chester and to the country.
“The Rows have huge potential but also present their own challenges due to some difficulties with access and multiple ownerships. By working closely with the building owners, residents and businesses we can help kickstart the restoration process and improve the area for everyone.”
Chester’s Chester High Street Heritage Action Zone is a partnership between Cheshire West and Chester Council, Historic England, Chester BID, University of Chester, Marketing Cheshire, Grosvenor Estate and Chester Civic Trust.
From this week, people can share what they love via social media using #HighStreetLove in a week of celebration. It could be remembering the place you bought your first ever album, a shop that’s become part of your weekend routine, or a place you go to meet friends and family, Historic England wants to hear about it.
The stories will come together to build a national picture of what makes high streets so special and to learn what matters most when it comes to their future.
Further details are available about the Chester High Street Heritage Action Zone at: http://chester.westcheshiregrowth.co.uk/projects/heritage-action-zone/