After four years of negotiation, businesses on Llanthony Road will now be able to move and a multi-million pound investment to transform a major road into Gloucester will go ahead this spring.
Other investment to the west of Gloucester in the last decade have turned the remaining piece of single carriageway A430, called Llanthony Road, into a traffic and economic bottleneck.
In 2017, Gloucestershire County Council unveiled its plans to widen the road – with £7.45 million of investment, £2 million from GFirst LEP – claiming it was ‘vital to help keep Gloucestershire moving and support economic growth in the county’.
But, it also revealed this would mean demolishing The City Business Centre, home to an estimated dozen tenants.
Deals to compensate and help relocate those businesses are now completed, SoGlos has been told, with the council expected to begin work as early as April 2021.
‘I think this bodes well now for the whole of Gloucester. It is a positive that the council is looking to develop the city, and also look to respect the heritage that is here,’ said Nick Broady, the owner of The City Business Centre.
By ‘heritage’ Mr Broady was referring to the wall which fronts the Llanthony Secunda Priory opposite the business centre. Protected by the property’s Grade I listing, which is an obstacle which forced the planners to re-draw the road through the business centre.
According to the county council’s calculations the local economy will benefit by £1 million annually as a result – or £64,270,000 over a 60-year appraisal period – as a result of the new 700-metre section of the South West Bypass.
For Mr Broady, who also runs a number of businesses on the site, his Avenue Cars operation will be relocating to a new base off the A40 at Birdwood, with work already underway to prepare the premises for the move.
At Bikini Bathrooms, which currently fronts Llanthony Road, work is also underway to preparing a new headquarters at Triangle Park off Metz Way, next to Morrisons.
Cormac Veale, who runs the long-standing family business with wife, Ann, and son, Brendan, said the move would bring to an end a difficult and uncertain period.
‘We have done well here and established a good reputation for ourselves and do well with repeat business,’ said Mr Veale, whose business specialises in bathrooms, kitchens (trade and domestic), as well as installation.
Although Bikini Bathrooms currently remains open, he is hoping the move to new premises in March 2021 will coincide with the easing of lockdown restrictions and allow the business to put what he called ‘an extremely tough’ period behind it.
Other firms which will also relocate off the site include B&R Engineering, which has moved nearby; Elite Repairs and Paint, which has moved to Kingsditch Trading Estate; Cheltenham, CGS Engineering, P&M Group, which has moved to Llanthony Business Centre; and Gloucester Bike Specialist, which has moved onto Severnside Trading Estate.
David Owen, chief executive officer of GFirst LEP, said: “These improvements will help to improve the traffic flow on a major route from the city centre to the M5 motorway.
“GFirst LEP was pleased to invest £2 million via Growth Deal funding into this South West Bypass Improvements scheme. Our investment went towards funding for the business case for the overall project.”
Gloucestershire County Council confirmed some ‘advanced work’ would begin this Spring, with the project proper starting in the Summer.
By Andrew Merrell