Consent granted for new special needs school in historic Chester city-centre buildings

Donald Insall Associates has just received planning and listed building consent to change the use of two buildings in Chester’s historic city centre into the new ‘Abbey School for Exceptional Children’, a specialist school for children with autism and complex care needs. The buildings include Grade II* listed 10–11 Abbey Square, which dates back to 1754, with the two buildings merged into one in the 20th century; and 3–6 Abbey Green, also built in the late 18th century and facing the City Walls. The first phase of work to the currently empty buildings will include essential repairs, aiming to retain historic elements while enabling new facilities for the school.

The two buildings form part of the Chester Cathedral Estate, for which a masterplan was devised in 2008, with proposals aiming to preserve and regenerate the buildings to allow the cathedral to raise funds to maintain the historic estate. This consented scheme follows on from previous unsuccessful proposals, including a luxury boutique hotel, which were seen as incompatible.

Chairman and Project Director Tony Barton said: “We are very pleased to see that much-needed investment is going into these beautiful buildings, some of which have been searching for a new life for a decade. The works granted consent by Cheshire West and Chester Council will enable the conservation and sustainable use of these buildings which form a part of one of the best collections of 18th-century buildings in the North West.”

Work at on The Abbey School for Exceptional Children will commence later this year, with doors set to open in September 2020.