Plans for a new Gloucester bus station have moved one step closer after a rival Cheltenham bid for government money fell through.
The new bus station was sixth on a list of transport improvement priorities for the county – but a £3.3million bid to help build extra platforms at Cheltenham railway station, which was fourth, has collapsed.
A meeting on April 9 of the Gloucestershire Local Transport Board will decide whether to make Gloucester’s bus station a higher priority.
The new bus station would have a smaller footprint but would be more efficiently designed.
The £9.8million pot of money up for grabs from the government is likely to only fund the top four priorities.
Other schemes to benefit include the A40 bus lane at Benhall and the bus corridor to the west of Cheltenham.
City council leader Paul James, who also sits on the transport board, said: “The bus station is critical to giving a good first impression of the city and will act as a catalyst for the King’s Quarter development.
“The local transport board will look at the application using the agreed criteria and I know King’s Quarter developers Stanhope and city council officers are working hard to get the best bid in.”
A stumbling block is that a new bus lane for Metz Way is currently deemed a higher priority than the bus station but even councillors whose wards would be boosted by the scheme have demanded that the bus station be put forward.
City councillor Phil McLellan (LD, Barnwood) said: “My gut feeling is that King’s Quarter might not be viable if the bus station has to be part of the package so it needs to be funded by other means. If they are putting £2million into improving the railway station, we don’t want to be left with a frankly awful bus station.”
He urged Coopers Edge housing developers to fork out for the Metz Way bus lane as promised in their original house building agreement but later dropped because of the recession.
A Liberal Democrat motion to ask the city council to back the bus station bid was won. Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “There is some cash available now and anyone who has used the bus station will see that we desperately need a new one. A new bus station will give visitors a better welcome too.”
A new revised scheme for Cheltenham railway station is being drawn up but it is thought to be smaller than the last bid. Both Network Rail and First Great Western declined to support the previous £19.3million project to build extra platforms.