It may have taken years and needed the city council to seize the reins to make it happen, but the plans to transform Gloucester’s King’s Quarter are ‘go’ after the £107 million budget was approved.
Last night the city council voted in favour of investing in the 600,000 square foot master plan for The Forum, as laid out by its chosen development partner, Reef Group.
Approved by its planners, and with city construction firm EG Carter already at work in King’s Square, last night’s budget decision on Thursday 28 January 2021 clears the way for the scheme, which is expected to attract businesses and create 1,000 jobs.
Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that it’s now full steam ahead for this project which will see the transformation of Gloucester City Centre.
‘It’s a really exciting time for the city and we believe that there are huge opportunities ahead with the ambitious plans that we have for The Forum.
‘This is a new chapter for Gloucester and we’re looking forward to making our vision for this digital and social campus a reality.’
Esther Croft, development director at Reef Group, said: ‘Securing full budget approval for The Forum is a significant hurdle to have cleared, especially in these very challenging times.
‘It means that the way is open for us to make our vision of a thriving new digital campus for Gloucester a reality.
‘It is set to be one of the UK’s first truly integrated digital communities, with the space and infrastructure to create a seamless link between city centre living and working.
‘This investment in the city centre will attract new businesses and result in new jobs, as well as creating new and attractive destinations. Gloucester has an exciting future.’
Peter White, centre manager for King’s Walk Gloucester, the shopping centre linking King’s Square and Eastgate Street, said: ‘It is great to see the investment approved. With the work we have underway in King’s Walk and announcements expected for the end of this year this bodes really well for the city.’
Really pleased to see this moving forward. £107 million is an enormous commitment for a relatively small City Council. It deserves huge credit for this bold but necessary decision. #Gloucester #regeneration https://t.co/5kyQfTJxQb— Paul James (@pauljames_glos) January 29, 2021
The Forum scheme, which also involved Gloucester-based Quattro Design Architects, will include more than 125,000 square feet of office space with a shared workspace club and an innovation hub for emerging cyber businesses and incubator businesses.
This would sit alongside a 131-bedroom four-star hotel, a 9,000 square foot gym, restaurants, shops, bars and cathedral view apartments.
As part of the 600,000 square foot mastter plan for The Forum, there will be a multi-storey car park, alongside over one acre of public realm and landscaping work.
Renovation work to develop King’s House into a cultural hub with an incubator for start-up creative and cultural businesses as well as music studios, teaching rooms and performances spaces is also progressing.
The wider regeneration scheme also includes 26 affordable homes in Northgate Street to be operated by a local housing association.
By Andrew Merrell