A once in a lifetime development that will transform the centre of Gloucester is all systems go after planners gave permission for phase two of The Forum Digital.
The decision to allow phase two of the £107 million-plus Digital Forum development in Gloucester city centre to go ahead ensures ‘vital momentum’, according to the firm driving the scheme.
It is the phase which will see the demolition of buildings including Grosvenor House, currently home to Tesco Express, as well as the creation of a hotel, commercial and business space, car and bicycle parking and landscaping.
Artist’s impressions by developer Reef Group shows the ambitious scheme in all its glory, with an extra 32,000 square metres of internal floor space, roof-top gardens and views of the Cathedral.
Development director, Esther Croft, who has been leading the team at Reef Group, said the decision to allow phase two was great news.
‘Although the scheme is very much underway, you can never be sure – so getting this permission for phase two is fantastic. It is vital to have won this in April. It will ensure the momentum on the project remains and the work continues.
‘This represents an incredible amount of work, not just from the team at Reef Group, but all of the partners who have really given their all to make this project become a reality. It is a really exciting step forward,’ said Ms Croft.
Although it is the city council’s own project, phase two still had to win approval from the local authority’s planning committee to progress.
Momentum had been lost before it was even won on a number of occasions over the last decade, as the transformation of King’s Square was talked about but never progressed.
It was only when the city council decided to go all in, take control and appoint Reef Group that work on the ground began to happen.
Councillors voted in favour of the development – nine votes for, two against on the grounds of concerns over the height of the buildings, and one abstention.
Councillor Andrew Lewis said: ‘It is going to look modern and I think it will look good. It will be a wonderful complex going through to King’s Square.
‘I think it will be a real asset for the city.’
City architects, Quattro, also played a part in the scheme and Gloucester based EG Carter is already working to install the new-look square.
There was concern that the collapse of Debenhams risked leaving the otherwise exciting project bookended on one side by an empty former department store, but just last month the University of Gloucestershire declared it would be moving into the significant building.
With phase two now assured, The Forum Digital development is set to be one the most exciting new developments Gloucester has ever seen.
By Andrew Merrell