In a move to breathe new life into Handbridge’s historical fabric, plans have been unveiled for the conversion of St Mary’s on Overleigh Road into a residential complex, subject to approval from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The imposing structure, located in close proximity to St Mary Without-the-Walls Church, carries a storied history dating back to the late 19th century, initially serving as a school and later as the Overleigh Children’s Day Nursery. Presently vacant, the building awaits a new purpose, with Grosvenor proposing a transformation into apartments.
Grosvenor envisions the adaptation of the historic building into a residential enclave, comprising a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments. The proposal aligns with the increasing demand for housing near Chester’s city centre, aiming to bolster the economic vitality of the neighbouring communities.
“The objective is to repurpose this underutilized yet prominent building in the centre of Handbridge for the benefit of the community,” states the application. This mirrors the broader trend of repurposing historical structures to meet contemporary needs, preserving architectural heritage while addressing present-day challenges.
The proposed development includes the removal of existing mid-century, single-storey extensions at the building’s rear. The subsequent reconfiguration of the rear courtyard seeks to provide essential amenities like access, parking, and a communal garden. External modifications will be subtle, focusing primarily on upgrading doors, windows, and render to maintain the building’s aesthetic charm.
A noteworthy aspect of the proposal is the introduction of an 11-space car park, reflecting an environmentally conscious approach. Six electric vehicle charging points are planned, and an accessible parking bay with increased dimensions will cater to individuals using wheelchairs. To future-proof the development, the remaining parking spaces are designed for potential EV charger installation at a later date. Additionally, residents can utilize sheltered, secure bicycle parking.
Landscaping takes precedence in the plans, with a commitment to enhancing green spaces. The proposal involves the removal of existing foliage and the introduction of trees, hedges, vegetable beds, and wildflower meadow planting areas. Planners assert that this “significantly increased” landscaping will not only enhance the surroundings but also improve surface run-off and drainage—a nod towards sustainable urban development.
The application, presently under scrutiny by Cheshire West and Chester Council, reflects meticulous consideration given to preserving the historical essence of the building while adapting it to contemporary residential needs. The forthcoming decision on this development holds the key to a harmonious blend of heritage and modern living in the heart of Handbridge.
Local residents and heritage enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the council’s decision on this proposed transformation. If approved, the project could serve as a model for repurposing historical structures throughout the region, infusing new vitality into neglected yet architecturally significant landmarks.
Amid ongoing urbanization, such initiatives not only address the pressing need for housing but also contribute to the cultural and economic revival of the community. The proposed conversion of St Mary’s on Overleigh Road stands as a testament to the potential synergy between history and progress, illustrating how thoughtful development can seamlessly integrate the old and the new.