Ecclesiastical calls off move to Gloucester Docks
Talks have begun to ensure major employer Ecclesiastical remains in Gloucester after the insurance firm called off its head office move to the city's Docks.
The insurance firm, which employs 600-plus in the city, today announced its plans to halt its head office relocation project and has terminated its agreement with Gloucester City Council to build a new headquarters in the city's Docks.
Ecclesiastical has cited the continuing challenging economic environment and an unsuccessful bid to identify a viable funding proposal for the construction of the new building as the reasons for terminating the project.
The project has already incurred the company significant costs in excess of £1million.
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Steve Wood, UK managing director for Ecclesiastical, said: "We have made every effort to take our plans forward over the last few years and it is very disappointing to find ourselves in a position where we simply aren't able to progress with this project any further.
"Unfortunately, we have been defeated by the economic conditions and the extremely challenging office construction market in the region.
"The funding options presented to us by potential partners are simply not viable for our business and would result in Ecclesiastical committing to an unfavourable property deal.
"We have, therefore, made the difficult decision to put our relocation plans on hold for the foreseeable future.
"However, making sure that we provide our people with the best possible working environment is extremely important to the management of the company so we will continue to re-evaluate our property space requirements and review the options available to us.
"This is clearly a disappointing decision for Gloucester City Council and the City, but even though Ecclesiastical will not be moving to Gloucester Docks as planned, we remain committed to the City and its community as we have been for the last 30 years. We will be discussing our options with the City Council in the near future."
City Council Leader, Paul James, said: "While this is extremely disappointing news that the development cannot proceed as planned it is not altogether surprising in the current economic climate.
"However, the most important issue is that Ecclesiastical remain committed to the City and we will work with them to ensure Gloucester continues to meet the needs of their business.
"The Southgate Moorings site is an important part of the Docks and we will reflect on how it can best support the continued regeneration of this area in the future."
Chris Oldershaw, chief executive of Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, said: "We are naturally disappointed with the recent announcement, but remain optimistic that Ecclesiastical will develop Southgate Moorings for their new headquarters when the national economy is stronger."