Historic Chester alleyway being restored

Restoration work on Chester’s historic streets remains a key priority for Cheshire West and Chester Council. Work on Chester’s High Street Heritage Action Zone supported by Historic England moves into Leen Lane this week to reclaim one of the city’s historic alleyways. 

Chester Rows are full of alleyways and ginnels that lie largely unexplored by residents and visitors.  There are so many treasures and discoveries to be found in these alleyways.  Leen Lane particularly provides direct access between Northgate Row and St Werburgh Street and the Cathedral entrance. 

Leen Lane is a perfect example of a place that could both entice visitors from the Cathedral into forgotten places whilst also providing a key service area for the city. 

The six-week project includes lifting and relaying the existing Yorkstone to provide a smooth and accessible surface. The area has been used mainly as a bin storage area for surrounding businesses.  

The new heritage design will see repairs to the road and pavement using images of the lane from 1931. The design respects the historic layout of the alley, using natural stone materials and construction methods. 

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration said, “This latest work will restore the unique character of this alleyway, which is in the heart of the conservation area and opposite Chester Cathedral.

“Leen Lane has lost its historic charm over many years as the city has adapted to the day to day needs of surrounding businesses. These improvements will enhance this historic route within the city centre and retain the level of intrigue particularly from the Northgate Street entrance.

“The work is part of our wide-ranging Row’s improvement scheme, which includes lighting upgrades, repairs, re-painting, interpretation and public art. It is all about restoring pride and responding to feedback from residents and businesses in the city.”

Historic England’s Pippa Brown said, “The alleyways and ginnels of Chester’s historic high street are often overlooked. These improvements will help people to explore hidden aspects of the city’s heritage and improve the character of the area for locals and visitors alike.”

Key benefits: 

  • Enhancing a historic route in the city centre 
  • Improving the bin storage area will tidy the area and make future deep cleaning more effective whilst also tackling health and safety issues related to the existing bins. It will be a lane first, and bin store second 
  • Embrace a sense of discovery and charm 
  • Reintroduce Yorkstone setts and Yorkstone flags 
  • Increase accessibility of the narrow space by replacing granite kerbs like other Chester alleyways to increase the width of the bin and pedestrian access. 

Image: Leen Lane in 1931

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