BMW Mini dealership designs not 'iconic' enough for town
DESIGNS for a flagship BMW Mini dealership in Cheltenham have been described as being "unashamedly modern" but not as "iconic" as they could be.
John Henry, chairman of architectural guardians the Cheltenham Civic Society, is urging borough council planners to use the development as an opportunity to create a breathtaking building.
Plans have been submitted to build a £15 million BMW, Mini and Motorrad showroom on land at North Road West and Grovefield Way in Hatherley.
The outlet will include vehicle sales and servicing facilities and will be visible from the A40, making it the first thing motorists see on their approach to the regency town.
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But Mr Henry believes the artist's impressions are not "iconic" enough and that an opportunity could be lost to give visitors to Cheltenham a view to behold.
He said the location is an "important gateway site".
"Firstly, I think it's a good way to improve what people see when they first enter Cheltenham," Mr Henry said.
"One would like to give them a good first impression of the town.
"There has been some places that are already extremely good.
"The Aston Martin garage on Tewkesbury Road is a very well designed building.
"I think the Mini is an iconic British motor and needs something iconic to sell it (to visitors to Cheltenham).
"I think the designs are unashamedly modern but I think it's not quite what it could be.
"I think it needs something to make it exciting. Something for Cheltenham to shout about."
If given the go ahead, it would see the closure of the existing Cotswold BMW Mini site in the Kingsditch Trading Estate in Tewkesbury Road.
When complete, all 150 employees at the former site will be transferred to the new operation with an additional 100 new jobs created.
The landmark facility, which would also sell motorcycles, would be built on land just off Grovefield Way, next to the existing park and ride and B&Q roundabout. Access would be from Grovefield Road.
"They want to build something that will be visible from the A40 so that visitors will see this glass structure on their way into Cheltenham," continued Mr Henry.
"It will be near the park and ride and nearby the GCHQ building which is already very famous.
"What the Civic Society feel is that building impressive buildings is what matters.
"It's not sensible to have one in the centre of town so to have it near the park and ride is a good location.
"I think Aston Martin is a iconic brand which has a world class building.
"It would be nice to see a building like that for the Mini on your approach.
"From the drawings, we can see there were no BMWs and all Minis. Maybe that's what they will focus on."
The new build will feature solar panels placed on the roof and a rainwater harvesting system.
There will also be a cafe.
Mike Short, the architect behind the project, said the plan would be to create a building which would "stand out" while being "clean and uncluttered".
A planning application for the development was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council last month. It is understood another business is interested in filling the vacancy at the existing Cotswold BMW Mini site in Tewkesbury Road.
Motoring bosses hope it will pave the way for more businesses to move onto the Grovefield Way site