CRACKING the Golden Egg has been neatly championed as the start of progress on realising the King’s Quarter dream.
But city councillors gave their damning verdict on the chances of that dream ever becoming a reality at a meeting on Monday night.
Stanhope, the developers behind the £50million project, sent their big gun Martyn Chase to the planning meeting in a successful attempt to have plans which would allow a new Home Bargains store to open at the Peel Centre thrown out.
In his attack on the proposal by rival developer Peel, he said that the Golden Egg’s demolition this week was a sign that King’s Quarter was finally happening.
Nice spin, but the Golden Egg’s demolition is hardly a double-yolk.
It was after all, Gloucester City Council who had to buy the site from Aviva in a desperate measure to get tough after years of residents bemoaning its existence.
It was not some grand gesture by developers Stanhope, so claiming that it is a sign of progress was laughable to some critical councillors.
Councillor Mary Smith, who always has a keen eye on these issues, barked: “King’s Quarter has been hanging around for a long time and nothing has happened. People are sceptical about it.
“It is easy to say that getting rid of the Golden Egg is progress when it was actually this council that paid for that. In fact it is quite offensive. The only action we have seen is what we have had to pay for ourselves.”
Fellow councillor Mark Hobbs said: “We can’t hang around for a scheme that is promised but never delivered.”
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t want the Golden Egg to go but let’s not kid ourselves that it is proof that bigger things are coming.”
Of course Stanhope and city council bosses will point to upcoming archaeological digs in King’s Square as a sign that things are progressing. Perhaps they will be right, but many people in Gloucester won’t believe King’s Quarter will happen until they are shopping in Next or whatever fashion retailer it manages to attract as its anchor store.
Even a glimpse of a planning application before the year is out might help to allay people’s fears that it is not going to come off.
Let’s be clear: the stakes have never been higher.
Peel are pushing ahead with their development on the other side of the city and we can’t afford to let this part of the city falter in their wake.
On a positive note, it was at least encouraging to see Stanhope make an appearance at the planning committee. After months of silence, it was refreshing to see that they are clearly still taking an interest in what’s happening – even if it is just to scupper their rival’s plans.