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Time to sort the missing piece in Gloucester's retail puzzle - Bakers Quay

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 05, 2013

Regeneration:  Dick Bishop in front of The Malthouse at Bakers Quay. Inset; Saturday's front page.

Regeneration: Dick Bishop in front of The Malthouse at Bakers Quay. Inset; Saturday's front page.

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Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council looks at the missing link in Gloucester's retail puzzle:

THE Citizen's story on Saturday about the potential regeneration of Bakers Quay was good news.

If there are some big name occupiers showing genuine interest in a deliverable scheme, then I welcome it.

But, as owner of the site Dick Bishop himself says, we've been here before, so I'm not cracking out the Champagne just yet.

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Bakers Quay has been competing in recent years with the Railway Triangle and the infamous Golden Egg for the title of Gloucester's worst eyesore.

Work on the Triangle is now well advanced and Aviva are looking seriously at what to do with the Golden Egg, so that leaves Bakers Quay.

When The Queen visited 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."

When it was surrounded by a sea of dereliction and bordered by a road to nowhere, it didn't seem to matter so much.

But now Peel has invested north of £200million in the adjacent Gloucester Quays, including the latest phase of the new cinema and restaurant, and the inner relief road and South West Bypass are both complete, Bakers Quay sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I don't deny that this is a difficult site to deal with.

There are some important listed buildings which are in poor condition and will be expensive to bring back into use.

The scale of the site is such that tens of millions of pounds of investment will be needed for a comprehensive development – which is what it must be. Peel have done the hard yards in creating an attraction in this area and supporting it through the tough times, so they've made the job of regenerating Bakers Quay slightly easier.

People have asked me why the city council hasn't just slapped a compulsory purchase order on the site.

We do have CPO powers as a last resort, but there are tests that have to be satisfied if they are to be used successfully.

A CPO enquiry can be expensive and time-consuming and the outcome uncertain.

A better result would be the owners delivering a regeneration scheme.

Commercial land values have tumbled during the recession and they won't reach the levels seen during the boom any time soon, so property owners have to be realistic about the returns they will get.

The owners of Bakers Quay aren't absentee landlords but a local family, who must feel embarrassed about the condition of their site every day of the week.

During their talks with me over the last few years, they have assured me they have Gloucester's best interests at heart.

Now is the time to prove it.

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3 comments

  • Lightship Therapies  |  March 05 2013, 4:49PM

    This would also open the up the Quays so people can walk around the whole docks. If you look at the overall development plan for that Quay side, it would mean nice sitting areas in-between the two pillar buildings. Talking about getting some tourists in the Docks and a place you can sit, eat & drink whilst overlooking the canal. Lets hope Mr Bishop is finally playing-ball!

    |   7
  • Bratfurd  |  March 05 2013, 4:31PM

    Plenty of empty retail units in the city. Why is there such a determination to build more empty units?

    |   -2
  • MummyKeep  |  March 05 2013, 4:13PM

    With the enormous wealth of history our City possess and with so much more to be discovered - why must the Council's mantra continue to be 'retail, retail, retail'? Gloucester cannot compete with the likes of Cribbs Causeway, Cabot's Circus nor even Cheltenham on a retail platform, but what the City does have, and should exploit, is our rich history! Invest in tourism - the Romans thought it had potential...why can't the Council think like that?

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