Chester Race Company is said to be delighted that the council has voiced support for its £35 million development plans, although the decision may yet be passed over to the Secretary of State.

The Race Company recently formed a partnership with The Stephenson Group, a development firm from London, in a bid to make the scheme a reality at its city centre-based Linenhall car park. Should the move go ahead, there will be enough work to keep joiners in Chester busy for some time.

Members of the strategic planning committee for Cheshire West and Chester Council supported the scheme which has caused some controversy with local residents.

Mark Lynch, the planning officer, said that an unnamed person had chosen to refer the submission to the National Planning Casework Unit. The group represents Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State.

The unit has to decide within three weeks whether or not to refer the case to Mr Pickles.

Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas said that the firm was grateful that the decision looked like it was going through, although he said that his team members were aware that it hasn’t been finalised.

Those involved have been informed that permission had been granted for an earlier project on the same kind of scale. This involved the building of commercial apartments, although it didn’t come to fruition.

However, Mr Lynch said that the impact of the project would be minimal and that it would take a great effort to argue for refusal should the applicant choose to appeal.