Derelict buildings near Gloucester Quays are in danger of being lost forever as their condition worsens.
Falling masonry, collapsed walls and rooftops buckling under rainwater damage are just some of the problems at the complex of 19th century warehouses at the privately-owned Bakers Quay.
Squatters have even created their own drug den in the Downing’s Malthouse Extension.
The Grade-II listed Provender Mill, the Malthouse Extension and a once-impressive timber-clad bridge between the two buildings are all on the ‘buildings at risk’ register kept by Gloucester City Council.
The ‘at risk’ register warns: “There is considerable vegetation growth to the walls and high-level details due to defective rainwater goods. One bay of the vented roof ridge to the north range has collapsed. The timber-clad gallery bridge between the Malthouse and the Extension is in very poor condition.”
But owner Dick Bishop said the buildings are ‘dry and water tight’. He added: “If you didn’t maintain them the historic buildings lot would have me in court tomorrow morning. When you do try and repair the buildings they say you can’t do this, can’t do that.”
Mr Bishop said he had visited the site in the last week and regularly secures the buildings but they are repeatedly broken into by squatters.
Asked if there was any sign that the site would be developed he vowed there would be an announcement in ‘three or four weeks’.
Mr Bishop said: “It is all going on at the moment behind the scenes. When it does happen it won’t just be one customer, there will be 20 people on the table.
“The area has been ripe for development for the last 20 years but the country has been in a state. We have had so many developers, even the big ones, who want a miracle but haven’t got a ha’penny in their pockets. The customers are coming back now though.”
Mr Bishop previously revealed plans in March 2013 for a new Premier Inn hotel, a Costa coffee drive-thru and Brewers Fayre pub-restaurant along with apartments.
Baker’s Quay was constructed in the late 1830s by a group of businessmen led by Samuel Baker but the buildings fell into abandonment as industry at Gloucester Docks starting to wind up in the 1970s.
For several years developers Peel, owner of Gloucester Quays, have been trying to buy Bakers Quay from the Bishop family so that it can be redeveloped as part of the Quays shopping and leisure complex.
Jason Pullen, managing director of Peel Outlets, last night renewed his desire to see the site development by Peel. He said: “In June we will be seeking to renew the planning permission for the whole of the Gloucester Quays site which incorporates Bakers Quay and we still retain an interest in seeing a comprehensive development there.”
The eyesore site has even been criticised by the Queen during her visit to the city in 2009 to see the progress of Gloucester’s regeneration. Her Majesty looked at Bakers Quay and said: “You’ve still got some work to do then.”
Frustration at the rate of progress, continues today. Gloucester City Council leader Paul James said: “They maybe water tight but they buildings are going to deteriorate if substantial repairs are not carried out and it detracts from the area where we have got the biggest regeneration scheme that Gloucester has ever seen.
“The economy has improved and it will make getting a development started easier. There have been some lengthy discussions with Rokeby Developments so I have a renewed sense of optimism, although I have learnt not to count my chickens. I look forward to hearing an announcement in three or four weeks then.”