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Country pub in Chester city centre is chain’s vision

AN UPMARKET pub chain hopes a new prime city centre venue could be up and running by next summer.

Brunning and Price, which owns Old Harkers Arms, the Grosvenor Arms at Aldford and Pant-yr-Ochain at Wrexham, has applied for planning and listed building consent to convert St Martin’s Lodge, next to the HQ building.

Owned by Liberty Properties, who built HQ, the building has been on the market for £1.5m but a sale to Brunning and Price would be dependent on planning permission.

The pub would have a large beer garden, being set in 1.2 acres of grounds, with parking for 35 cars.

Duncan Lochhead, a director of the Aldford-based pub company, is hopeful a scheme can be agreed which satisfies planners and conservation officers at Cheshire West and Chester Council as well as residents.

He said: “It would be food-led but a pub rather than a restaurant. We run civilised places and hope it would be very much like our existing operations .

“The style would be of a country pub but in the city.”

There would be room to accommodate up to 160 diners, including a private dining area on the first floor.

Mr Lochhead said the sooner the building could be brought back into use the better because it was deteriorating and there had been problems with squatters.

The hope is the pub could be open by mid-summer 2012 if planning permission is granted.

Built in 1826, the lodge was designed by Thomas Harrison as his residence. Harrison also conceived The Grosvenor Bridge and restored Chester Cathedral and parts of Chester Castle.

The Grade II-listed building was previously owned by Cheshire police.