Working together driving Gloucestershire's transformation
By Rob Freeman | 17th March 2021
Early action and a combination of public and private sectors have helped drive major developments in Gloucestershire.
That was the message from developers at an online event organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects and sponsored by Punchline-Gloucester,com.
The Business Bounce Back: Gloucestershire event focused on some of the largest construction events in the county and explored the development role of local authorities in building economic growth.
Hosted by RIBA Wessex regional chair Tom Bell, the event heard presentations on The Forum development in Gloucester and Cheltenham's Cyber Park.
Esther Croft, development director of Reef Group working alongside Gloucester City Council to build The Forum, said the council identifying priorities, acting swiftly and showing leadership was key to the project.
She said: "The council was quick to recognise having a partner on board is critical to give a project legs and be built. It has given us an inherent flexibility.
"Several council officers recognised the importance of gaining control of the land. The council showed great foresight in purchasing parcels of land."
She revealed a revised design would be submitted next month with one pre-let secured amid strong interest.
"Delivery of King's Quarter and The Forum is happening," she said. "It is a milestone the city should be immensely proud about.
Design director Sam Potter said plans for the development, which is due to start on site next month, combined future needs with the city's history.
He said: "We think there's an oppose to show what is possible, underpinned by the layering of history in the city.
"The right approach is something very contemporary but also reflective of the history of the city."
"There's huge growth in the area, not least in the Cyber Park. We are really keen to capitalise on the great benefits of the area and the way society is moving towards different ways of working."
Councillor Andrew Gravells, cabinet member for planning and housing strategy, said Gloucester was "well and truly reinventing itself".
He said: "Gloucester is a small city but one with confidence and a vision for its central area."
The council's city growth and delivery manager David Evans outlined the increased focus on good design as part of a bid to compete with other areas.
He said: "There's an onus on us as a council to set an example.
"If a scheme isn't good enough, we should be refusing it early, saving our time and the developer time.
"It is changing Gloucester's reputation to compete with some of the best cities in the country for investment and design."
Cheltenham Borough Council has played a key role in plans for the Golden Valley Development, which will include the Cyber Park, after buying two parcels of land close to GCHQ.
Golden Valley project manager Neil Hopwood said: "We have a unique asset in GCHQ and we recognised quite early, left purely to the private sector we might not get a develop of the scale we were looking for.
"A key part of the proactive approach is to engage with planning consultants and designers to come up with a masterplan.
"Everything aligns to make this an attractive proposition for the private sector as well."
The council's managing director of place and growth Tim Atkins said the development was "in the global importance category".
He said: "This is an opportunity for a smart city with cyber security at its heart.
"We can start linking Cheltenham and Gloucester together and benefiting from that."
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