Gloucester's King's Quarter regeneration deal 'in days'
THE £60million King's Quarter regeneration scheme for Gloucester will be realised within two years after plans took a "giant leap" forward.
And some of the high street's top names are keeping an eager eye on the project as they weigh up a move to the new-look city centre.
In the biggest milestone for the scheme so far, Gloucester City Council chiefs are signing a contract with developers Stanhope Plc within days.
It has been likened to a "marriage proposal" by one city chief.
Bissell's 8910E Aroma Pro is the ultimate in home cleaning giving you a machine that provides outstanding results when not just cleaning carpets but stairs and upholstery too.
Terms: Limited Stock Offer . FREE Delivery to most UK postcodes.
Contact: 01664 491439
Valid until: Tuesday, May 28 2013
Stanhope's project director Martyn Chase said some retailers are already getting excited about the opportunities.
He said: "We have shown our plans to the retailers at a conference on Monday and they were very enthusiastic. There were some big names there.
"We will now be chasing these leads up in the next few weeks. This is a priority because there is no point in submitting a planning application if there are no retailers on board.
"The next stage will be to acquire the land we need for the development. The land owners have been working with us and have so far been very co-operative because it is as much in their interest to see this area transformed. We also have to make sure we have the right infrastructure in place, so that means producing a place for the bus station, a car park and all the surrounding roads."
A planning application will be submitted early next year and then, if passed, the construction work will begin later in 2013.
The radical plans include demolishing existing buildings and introducing around 40 new shops, restaurants, a small cinema, a community space and a revamped bus station.
Councillor Debbie Llewellyn, deputy leader of Gloucester City Council, said: "This is the biggest milestone since the project began.
"When you have got the bigger retailers signed up it will bring in the smaller ones too so everyone gets a bite of the cherry.
"We are just about to sign on the dotted line. It is a giant leap forward. It's like a marriage contract. Stanhope is contractually obliged to bring this to life.
"It is all systems go."
Among the names watching on is fashion chain Zara. Spokesman Susan Suett said: "We look at all locations before opening a new store. It has to be the best location in a given area. If the area is being invested in that certainly gets our interest."
City councillors said this week that the King's Quarter development is their number one priority among 15 ongoing projects across Gloucester.
Writing in Monday's Citizen, Editor Ian Mean will issue a rallying call for the regeneration drive to continue in Gloucester.
He will write in his Mean on Monday column: "As I said at Gloucester Day recently, Gloucester is finally on the up and much of that new confidence in the city has come from investment into our regeneration projects.
"As vice chairman of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, I have often been critical during the last six years of its life of what I perceived to be a lack of drive and enthusiasm by our city council to rebuild this once great city of ours.
"However, despite the fact that the GHURC is now in its death throes, I believe the regeneration penny has now dropped with our councilors.
"Last week, I attended a city council Cabinet meeting to hear about the city ‘s vision to take regeneration forward without the help of the GHURC which will close its doors by next March.
"I admit I was ready to be critical.
"But I came away thinking there is a real chance that the momentum now driving this city forward will not be lost.
"Yes, the penny has dropped.
"What impressed me last Wednesday evening was that the city councillors have now come a long way on the journey to regeneration in Gloucester.
"Paul James, the leader, is a guy who works in property and well knows just how tough it is to get outside investment into a city that to most developers ten years ago was simply a no go area.
"And Paul was honest enough to tell the Cabinet that there would be no return to the “dark and bad old days” of the past.
"He was, of course, referring to the appalling planning decisions like the failure of the Arrowcroft shopping scheme at Blackfriars, which killed future investor confidence.
"All that has changed, of course ,with the ongoing huge investment by Peel Holdings in Gloucester Quays and the work now starting on the eyesore Railway Triangle.
"The regeneration framework report produced by the city’s Corporate Director of Regeneration, Phil Staddon, is a first class piece of work.
"We will be looking at its detail in The Citizen over the next few weeks and asking you for your comments.
"One thing is certain. The Citizen will not allow this city to drift back into those bad old days—the momentum on driving our city forward must not be lost."