Work has officially started on phase one of Gloucester city centre’s £102m The Forum digital campus – described as being on a ‘scale and quality unrivalled in the south west’.
An official ceremony at 1pm on Thursday 18 August 2021 marked the occasion, with Gloucester construction firm EG Carter & Co now working to build the 19 apartments and 5,000 sqm of retail space for Tesco, which make up phase one of the ambitious city council-led project.
When complete, The Forum will also include more than 125,000 square feet of A-Grade office space, a shared workspace club, an innovation hub for ‘digital and incubator businesses’, a four-star hotel, 9,000 sq ft gym, restaurants, bars and a new car park.
It is a development also billed as an important part of Gloucestershire’s ongoing rise as a UK hot spot for cyber-related businesses, most dramatically stated by the pending Golden Valley Development between Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Esther Croft, development director at Reef Group, the firm brought in to deliver city centre redevelopment, said: ‘The location, scale and quality of The Forum is set to be unrivalled in the south west.
‘These residential units and retail space are key elements of The Forum’s hyperlocal style campus, which will benefit from ‘future-proof’, advanced digital and environmental credentials.’
Councillor Richard Cook, city council leader, said: ‘The Forum will be transformative for Gloucester. It is massive for the future of the city and will move us towards a city that operates 24-seven.’
E G Carter & Co Ltd, currently also completing the £5m remodelling of King’s Square, expects to finish ‘phase one’ in the summer of 2022.
‘It is great to be able to move forward now on the development, and we hope to see the first residents in in the summer of next year.
‘It is great testament to the work that has been done by many people to get us here.’
Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, said: ‘What we are seeing today is the beginning of a great new start for Gloucester and puts us closer to being able to claim the title of Britain’s best small city.’
The Forum has been designed to achieve an environmental rating of ‘excellent’, will be ‘net zero carbon’ using renewable electric supply throughout and feature 250 photovoltaic panels.
At today’s ground-breaking event were Cllr Cook, Richard Graham MP, Cllr Collette Finnegan, Mayor of Gloucester, Jon McGinty, managing director of the city council, Esther Croft, of Reef Group, Sam Carter, director of EG Carter Ltd, The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester and chair of the City Centre Commission and Stephen Marston, vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire and a representative of GFirst LEP.
By Andrew Merrell