A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Chester as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.
History & Geography
Located in North West England on the River Dee in the county of Cheshire, Chester sits on a sandstone ridge close to the Welsh border. The city was founded by the Romans as Deva Victrix in the 70s CE and was an important fortress, home to the Legio XX Valeria Victrix. A sizable civilian settlement quickly grew up around the fortress based on trade with the legionnaires. The settlement also boasted the largest military amphitheatre in Britain. When the Romans left the territory in the 5th century the settlement continued, and most likely many veterans stayed behind with their families. In the early 7th century the Saxons captured the settlement after a fierce battle with the Romano-British. The town then became part of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Until the 11th century the town was still referred to as Legacaester, meaning ‘fortress city of the legions’, until this was shortened and became simply Chester. Under the Saxons the town was further fortified against attacks from the Danes. When the Normans invaded in the 11th century Chester was one of the last towns in England to submit. For this reason William the Conqueror constructed a large castle in the area to control the town and watch the Welsh border. Over the centuries, due to its advantageous position of the River Dee and its proximity to the North Sea Chester continued to prosper as a major trading hub and centre of commerce. The city continued to prosper during the Industrial Revolution due to its efficient transport links, namely the Shropshire Union Canal and the city’s two railway stations, Chester General and Chester Northgate Station. The Chester Cattle Market was the largest in the region and was a major contributing factor to the city’s prosperity. The Victorian era saw the city expand significantly and much of its architecture is from this period, featuring distinctive Jacobean half-timbered houses. In the mid 20th century a lack of housing caused the city to develop residential areas on the outskirts of the city on what hand once been farmland. However this period also saw man historic buildings in the city knocked down, until in 1968 a government report recommended building around them instead of demolition. Due to this decision Chester has retained many of its old buildings which gives the city its elegant aesthetic of today.
Today Chester is one of the wealthiest cities in North West England. Its economy is mainly comprised of service industries, like many other cities in the area. Primary among them are tourism, retail, financial services and public administration. The city’s rich history and plethora of landmarks attracts visitors from both the UK and abroad and tourism has become a staple of the economy. Among the financial services outfits with a presence in Chester are Bank of America, MBNA Europe, NFU Mutual, HBOS plc and M&S Money. Also the price comparison site moneysupermarket.com is based just over the border in the Welsh town of Ewloe. Just to the west of Chester is a major Airbus factory which employs over 6,000 people and manufactures wings. Additionally Chester is a major retail centre, featuring two major indoor shopping centres, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre and the Forum. To the west and south of the city are two major retail parks, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet and Broughton Retail Park.
Tourism & Culture
Chester has a thriving tourist industry, due in no small part to the history surrounding the city. One of Chester’s primary landmarks are the city walls, which are the most complete in Britain and whose construction was started by the Romans and hugely extended by the Normans. A footpath runs along the top of the walls and is a popular walk. The city is also known for the Chester Rows, covered walkways which connect the entrances to shops and other buildings and date from medieval times. Chester’s distinctive black and white architecture, most of which are from Victorian times. Chester Cathedral and Chester Town Hall are also significant landmarks, as is the preserved shot tower, used for making lead musket balls. Chester’s amphitheatre, the largest uncovered in Britain, is also a major draw for history buffs, and dates from the 1st century CE.
Chester is served by Chester General railway station which has recently undergone extensive restoration. The rail line serving Chester General are North Wales Coast Line, Virgin Trains to London Euston, Arriva Trains to Manchester Piccadilly and Merseyrail to Liverpool. Chester itself is served by an extensive bus system, which is the main means of public transportation in the city. Chester has been designated a Cycling Demonstration Town and is receiving substantial financial support from the government to upgrade its cycling facilities, including new cycling lanes throughout the city.
Currently Chester is suffering from something of a dearth of office space, especially in its city centre. A new business district around the city’s railway station is planned, however will take several years to implement and depends on the vagaries of the economy. Chester and the North West region were not spared the effects of the financial crisis and demand was low for many years. However of late there has been a surge in demand which the city’s supply of office space has struggled to cope with. There is however a greater supply of office space in the areas surrounding the city including Herons Way and Sealand Road.