An iconic riverside restaurant in Chester, threatened with demolition, has had its community value asset (LCA) status removed.
The ‘Save the Red House’ campaign group has confirmed that the historic venue, home to popular Italian restaurant Et Alia, has been removed from the ACV list by Cheshire West and Chester Council following a successful appeal from the owner.
This latest blow to activists fighting to preserve the Red House comes shortly after a new offer was made to demolish the property to make way for apartments – along with shock plans to change the use. immediate office building.
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Over the summer, a proposal to demolish the building that has overlooked the River Dee since the 1850s and create an apartment building with seven houses, plus a parking lot, had been rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The denial came after council approved a request from activists to have the iconic property, valued at £ 2.7million, listed as ACV.
Obtaining ACV status had hoped to give the campaign group set up to save the building a period of time to find a business that would operate it as a going concern or establish a community trading enterprise.
However, in a new town planning application to replace it with apartments, Pegasus Group – acting on behalf of the applicant and owner, Mr Stalker – argued that “The Red House’s registration dossier does not provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the place meets the definitions “and requested its removal” without delay “.
Challenging the board’s decision to grant LCA status, the claimant states: “Even if the substantial initial sum is raised, the site owner has no obligation to sell to the community group under the LCA regulation.
“The sale of the site has already been agreed and that cannot be stopped from going forward, so there is no realistic prospect that the community group can buy the site.”
The requester added, “The Hospitality Viability Report confirms that a viable hospitality business at the site is not feasible in the future. “
In a letter to resident Kate Cousens, who led the campaign to save the Red House, council confirmed that following a review, the building’s registration threshold had not been met.
The letter, posted on the campaign’s Facebook page, said: “While it is obvious that there is a wish to preserve the Red House, the legal test is whether it is realistic to think that it is. now used for the good of the community. and could continue to do so over the next five years.
“Evidence was provided that although community events took place on the River Dee, they were not organized or directly managed from the asset side.
“There is not much to indicate that the funding necessary for the acquisition and operation of this asset by the community can be increased or maintained.
“Additionally, evidence for the viability of the asset to continue to function in the food and beverage industry suggests that it is not sustainable not only due to the pandemic and current complexities, but also due to lack of parking, location and the nature of the asset. “
Despite the setback, activists vow to continue their fight to save the Red House and urged supporters to voice their objections to the two planning requests that have been submitted to the council.
One supporter posted: “The council’s letter is one stop on a longer journey to save the site from redevelopment.
Another added: “The council says the community can’t run it as it is, which is probably true. But that doesn’t mean it’s a solution that planning should be given. If you are mad at what’s going on, tell the council! “