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Transport hub to help transform Gloucester

Source: Public Sector Executive June/July 2014

David Owen, chief executive of GFirst LEP, tells PSE how investing in a new transport hub will be a ‘keystone’ in the regeneration of Gloucester.

GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership bringing together businesses to make the county more successful, has made a conditional offer of £3m to fund a new transport hub in the historic city.

Part of a multi-million pound investment scheme to regenerate the King’s Quarter area of Gloucester into a new shopping and
leisure development, the funding is being offered to Stanhope Developers, backed by Gloucester City Council, to develop the new transport infrastructure.

David Owen, chief executive of GFirst LEP, told us: “Our investment, which has been approved conditionally at this stage, is specifically about the rejuvenation and regeneration of the bus station, which we see as being the catalyst to bringing forward the funding for the rest of the King’s Quarter scheme to happen.

“So it is a £3m investment by way of a loan from our Gloucestershire Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF) that will enable the bus station development to happen as the first phase of development for the entire King’s Quarter regeneration.”

There are a number of conditions that both Stanhope and the city council must meet, jointly, in order for the funding to begin, including the submission of a planning application (expected by the end of this year) and making sure the project work is part of the wider regeneration scheme.

The intention is that those conditions will be met by autumn this year and then construction work would begin next year.

Owen said: “For Gloucester itself, I know that the view from lots of local people is that the bus station has become an eyesore and is in desperate need of knocking down and starting again. The fact that the bus station is right next to the train station means that public transport access into Gloucester city centre, with a brand new transport hub, will be a great development.

“So the transport hub is vital in kicking off the entire regeneration scheme and ensuring that it allows people to get in and out of the city centre quickly and easily in a pleasant environment.”

The GFirst representative noted that Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC) kicked off regeneration efforts in the city about a decade ago with a project aimed at rejuvenating the city’s docks, which has attracted huge amounts of investment. “The missing piece of the puzzle in the city centre and retail offer is the King’s Quarter,” added Owen, “and Stanhope and the city council are working together to make this happen.”

As well as the transport hub announcement, it was recently revealed that the current King’s Square – a large 1960s designed square across from the station – will be redeveloped with a new building containing shops and a cinema.

Cllr Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council and cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “The vast majority of the funding is now in place so the project has
the green light to go ahead. This latest funding will give Gloucester the bus station it so desperately needs.”

There are schemes looking at the connectivity between the bus and train stations and how
this can improve the street infrastructure to enable better connectivity.

There has also been a lot of work done on highways access to make sure that once the new bus station goes in, access to it will be improved and then, potentially, there could be an increase in the number of services that could operate from Gloucester.

“The exciting thing is that the specifics of the design haven’t been confirmed yet, with discussions soon to be held with bus operators, residents and others who will use the area in the future,” said Owen. “The good news is that Gloucester could end up having a transport hub which is in some way iconic and represents all the great things about Gloucestershire, while also providing  that important gateway in the city.”

 He added that GFirst is interested in growing the economy of the area, and it will be engaged and involved in promoting the King’s Quarter scheme to businesses who are interested in coming into the area.

“We also happen to be a retail pathfinder for government,” said Owen, “so we are very interested in seeing Gloucester as a case study of how the right kind of investment and regeneration can rejuvenate the high street of what is a very historical city.”

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