Dee House Working Group looks to the future

17 July 2019

The Dee House Amphitheatre Working Group discussed how the site should be used in the future at its latest monthly meeting.  

The meeting was the first in a series of discussions by the group which will take place over the next few months to discuss future options for the building. The group will make its final recommendations to the Council later in the year.

This meeting focused on heritage and public uses, such as creating a heritage attraction, a public interpretation centre and a multi-use facility incorporating community elements.  Potential funding sources to renovate the building were also discussed.

Offering expert advice was Peter Middleton of L&R Consulting who was able to guide the discussions using his wide knowledge of heritage and culture and developing and managing successful tourism and cultural destinations.

The chair of the group Andy Foster, on behalf of the Chester Growth Partnership, said: “The fact finding stage of our meetings has finished. Our evidence gathering has highlighted the challenges ahead but our group is now focused on looking to the future and considering viable future options.  We are keen to develop a consensus about the future for Dee House and our future discussions will seek to achieve that.

“This meeting was a good starting point for our discussions and many ideas were considered and debated. Our next meetings will look at other potential solutions.  We are hoping to be in a position to make our recommendations to the Council in the Autumn.”

In previous meetings, the Group learned that:  little remains of the amphitheatre, the building is of historical and archaeological significance, there are financial challenges to overcome if it is to be renovated, and the national and local planning framework impacts on the building’s future.

The public filled Grosvenor Museum Lecture Theatre on 4 July to hear the facts for themselves at the interesting and informative event ‘Dee House: The Future Part One: Sharing the Facts’.      
 
Archaeologists Tony Wilmott from Historic England and Professor Stewart Ainsworth from University of Chester outlined how little remains of the Roman amphitheatre and significance of the site to the whole history of Chester. The views of a survey of young people were presented and Chris Matheson MP chaired a public discussion of the main issues.

Residents can watch a webcast of the event by visiting the Council’s website and searching for Dee House webcast.  The group is considering public views in its ongoing discussions and residents can continue to add to the debate on twitter at #DeeHouseQA

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, Roman Tours, a Chester University archaeological student,  Cheshire West and Chester Council officers, St. Johns Church and Historic England in an advisory capacity.

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