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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Exclusive walk through of The Forum

Work is progressing rapidly at the £107 million Forum development in the centre of Gloucester - and has been given an exclusive walk through.

The Forum development, which is being brought forward by Gloucester City Council in partnership with developer Reef Group, is being built on the site of the former Bruton Way car park. It will include a business hub, hotel, gym, restaurants, shops, bars, a multi-storey car park and apartments.

Contractor Kier has been on site since April last year and currently has about 100 workers on site every day.

The project is due to be completed by summer 2024. The new six-storey building will be 30 metres at its highest point. 

Esther Croft, development director of Reef Group, said: "I couldn't be more excited and more pleased. Having worked on this project for seven years, to see it coming out of the ground so fast and of such high quality is so exciting.

"Kier are doing an amazing job and hopefully most of the community and residents in Gloucester are enjoying seeing a really significant construction project."

Esther revealed that the main pedestrianised street was going to be known as Cathedral Walk, with a café and gym on the ground floor.

Esther said: "The gym is being marketed at the moment. If people are interested in a city centre opportunity, then please do come and speak to us.

"The café is going to be operated by the same operator as the Innovation Space, which is going to take up the whole of the first floor. We're hoping it's going to be a really interesting local provider, not necessarily a brand name, but somebody who is going to be able to provide decent food.

"One of the interesting aspects of the ground floor is the height between the floor and the ceiling, so it's going to be really spacious and a very different feel to a lot of the spaces we currently have in Gloucester, so a real feature.

"What's really exciting is how curved it is. It's been curved so accurately, so we can install the media screen as part of the structural phase of the building."

Esther said the media screen would be four storeys high, built into the steel fabric of the building with LED lights in a sequence.

She added: "We are really excited about the media screen. It's going to be used to showcase events in the city and also local content for our young people as well."

Tom Elliott, trainee site construction manager for Kier Construction, pointed to work progressing on the new car park. He said: "The first layer of tarmac has gone down now. And with the hotel, they are starting to get the columns in, and the decking for the first floor, so we are going to see that go up quickly, which will be brilliant."

As part of the development, the Innovation hub will offer workspace and skills support for start-up businesses.

Esther added: "It will be open to the public and people will be able to come here and base themselves here and use the facilities and hopefully gain lots of support from business start-up."

The second floor of the Forum will be available to let to a range of local businesses, as will another building being developed nearby as part of the scheme, 2 Cathedral Walk.

Esther added: "The whole building has been designed to ensure maximum flexibility, so businesses that might be interested in taking up space can take the north wing, the middle wing or the southern wing. It's split into different configurations to enable businesses of all types and sizes to locate there and take space.

"We're hoping that the development in total will have about 1,500 employees. How many businesses that could be, I couldn't really say. You could find that one business may take a whole floor. 

"We've got some good strong interest - we're really pleased with the interest we're receiving - but if local businesses want to come and locate themselves in what I think is the most exciting development in the county, then speak to us."

Esther said the Forum development was already a transformation from the derelict car park littered with rubbish.

"Tesco on the ground floor is a rip roaring success," she added. "They're trading really well and are very pleased with things, primarily because of the 100 construction workers who are on site daily, all getting their sandwiches!"

The Forum affords splendid views of Gloucester city centre, with views taking in King's Square, and King's Walk and Gloucester Cathedral. You can also see the nearby Whitefriars apartments development, where 19 luxury residential apartments ranging from one to three beds are being finished.

Esther said: "There are three of those left and the first residents moved in a couple of weeks ago, so we're really pleased."

Punchline's latest magazine, The Big Annual, is about the hit the streets and includes a 16-page feature headlined 'Gloucester is on the up and up' all about the various city centre developments currently taking place. Don't miss out on your copy!

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