When the pandemic lastly introduced an finish to a beleaguered Debenhams there was concern what this meant for Gloucester, with the division retailer a vital a part of town centre’s retail providing.
And with the landmark constructing abutting the multi-million pound metropolis council-led regeneration of King’s Sq., there have been fears the new-look quarter can be overslooked by a crumbling eyesore.
However these issues have been wiped away, with the College of Gloucestershire declaring itself the brand new proprietor of the Nineteen Thirties Artwork Deco constructing.
How a lot it paid for the five-storey constructing or how a lot it can make investments has not been revealed, however it’s joyful to speak about what it plans to do with the 20,000 sq. metres of house.
Stephen Marston, vice-chancellor on the college, mentioned: ‘By repurposing this iconic constructing into a brand new hub for studying, we are able to make a significant contribution to creating a greater future for our neighborhood.
‘We’ve got formidable plans for development in our pupil numbers and the vary of upper schooling programs we provide.
‘The restoration of this iconic constructing will allow us to create the extra house we want for added college students and workers in a location with wonderful transport hyperlinks, new pupil lodging, and native companies in a phased approach, whereas boosting town centre economic system.
‘That is all a part of the broader ambition, working with companions to convey new life and vibrancy to the excessive road.’
The potential constructive knock-on for the excessive road was echoed by Peter White, supervisor of close by King’s Stroll Procuring Centre, which is presently present process funding of its personal and has different thrilling plans up its sleeve.
‘That is extra nice information for Gloucester. With the King’s Sq. redevelopment on observe, funding we’re making in King’s Stroll, all of it bodes nicely for town and for footfall after we start to re-open correctly once more submit lockdown,’ mentioned Mr White.
Kieron Bates, the chairman for Gloucester BID, mentioned: ‘It is a welcome addition to enhance all of the work that’s going down in King’s Sq.. Most significantly, will probably be used and convey extra individuals into town.’
Pictured: An artist’s impression of The Discussion board, the ultimate transformation of Kings Quarter, of which King’s Sq. is a significant half
Councillor Richard Prepare dinner, chief of Gloucester Metropolis Council, which owns King’s Sq. and has led its redevelopment, mentioned: ‘That is unbelievable information which not solely ensures the way forward for this much-loved constructing, but in addition sees it turn out to be a hive of exercise and studying.’
The Discussion board, he mentioned, would add to the combo by bringing in ‘specialised digital and expertise firms making a thousand new jobs’.
‘Mixed with the transport hub and the refurbishment of the practice station that’s set to start this yr, our long-standing imaginative and prescient to regenerate and revitalise this a part of town is nicely on the best way to turning into a actuality,’ mentioned Mr Prepare dinner.
Peter Langley-Smith, improvement director at Reef Estates Ltd, which is main the King’s Quarter improvement for town council, mentioned he was delighted by the information.
Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, additionally referred to as the transfer ‘nice excellent news’ for Gloucester.
Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat metropolis councillor, additionally referred to as the acquisition ‘excellent news’.
A vibrant campus right here will convey life again to town centre. I’m delighted that they will retain, restore and repurpose this magnificent 1930’s constructing.’
The College intends to ‘absolutely refurbish’ the previous division retailer to create ‘engaging, trendy areas for instructing and studying for college kids and workers, accommodating the College’s formidable plans to increase the dimensions and vary of its increased schooling programmes’.
Its ‘quickly increasing’ nursing and allied well being programs are among the many choices being explored.
It should additionally have a look at ‘working with native companions’ to allocate a part of the bottom ground house for dual-use amenities for the neighborhood and the college, providing city-centre entry for the general public to companies.
The college mentioned it hoped section one of many challenge may open as early as September 2023.
By Andrew Merrell
Tuesday 16 March 2021