MORE flats and business space are hoped for as part of a £1.2 million scheme to improve the gateway to Gloucester.
The Townscape Heritage Initiative cash will be used to spruce up buildings in Southgate Street and to strengthen the links between the Docks and the city centre.
Part of the four-year plan will also teach residents how to make repairs sympathetic to the heritage of buildings as well as reinstate lost architectural detailing such as windows, doors and shop fronts.
Tim Nelmes, who has run the Tall Ships pub for 12 years, said: “This is a really good idea but if you look at the bottom end where we are there are lots of takeaways, you can only do so much there. But if the money is available, spend it.
“But Albion House is a waste of a building and it is among the most beautiful in the city. It overlooks the Docks car park, and it has been empty for around 15 years.”
He hopes the building can be brought into use as a hotel or apartments but Barry Leach, from Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership which is working with the council on the project, said plans are afoot to bring it back into use. He said permission was granted to turn the site into apartments, but that has since expired.
“The city council is chasing the owner to make some progress in reigniting the planning application or to do something with it,” he said.
“It is not only to make the frontages of the shops and buildings look more in-keeping with a town that cares, but part of it is to bring some empty space into use as accommodation.
“If you go to lower Southgate Street you will see lots of empty space above shops. My view is we need more people living in the city centre, or they can be used by small businesses.”
The city council and its partners bid for the cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will see traditional windows, railing, walls and shop fronts reinstated and returning vacant space to residential use in Southgate Street.
Essential repairs will also be carried out to Albion House, with traditional windows fitted and work carried out to the stonework. Priory Place will also receive attention to recreate the historic character of the row of listed buildings.