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A new £60million leisure quarter for Gloucester Quays

By The Citizen  |  Posted: September 27, 2011

  • How the new 10-screen cinema will look

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A MAGNIFICENT £60million shopping and leisure development is on the way to Gloucester – transforming the city.

Eleven restaurants, a 10-screen 1,600 seat cinema, a revamped and expanded Quays and new shops are all on the way, creating 550 new jobs.

A new leisure quarter, called The Quayside, promises to rapidly improve the city's historic Docks and catapult Gloucester forward as a shopping and food destination.

The existing Cineworld cinema at the Peel Centre would close, with the building itself being either demolished and rebuilt, or extended and revamped so it can provide 55,000 sq ft of retail space for new shops.

A new, modern 10-screen facility would then be built above an existing collection of units in High Orchard Street.

And 11 new restaurants would be built adjacent to the new cinema complex, effectively known as phase two of Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet.

The huge development, which is being pioneered by developers The Peel Group, the creators of the outlet, has been described as "tremendous news" for the city.

Peel hopes to start work on it early next year, with the opening scheduled for the autumn or winter of 2013.

Jason Pullen, managing director of Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet, said: "The changing economic times and markets have seen the scheme evolve and the latest phase of development would see the creation of a new leisure quarter for Gloucester.

"To invest a further £60million of privately funded money is a sign that we believe in the future of Gloucester.

"The city is not yet known for its night time dining and leisure attractions but with the development of The Quayside this would truly rival other destinations, and give the people of Gloucester an alternative with a great range of restaurants and entertainment."

The investment was decided upon after the company's chairman John Whittaker, a billionaire, flew over the city in a helicopter from the Isle of Man.

He said: "I believe the proposed cinema and associated restaurants will greatly enhance the choice for Gloucester residents and visitors."

Under the plans, there will be a ground floor foyer entrance opposite the existing Pizza Express and Nando's restaurants in Merchants Road to access the cinema.

A licensed bar, fast food outlets and a ticketing section will then greet film goers, with stairs and a lift leading to the facility upstairs.

Peel held discussions with a number of operators and Cineworld is set to be the company to run it.

Talks are also ongoing with restaurant operators about taking up the 11 new retail units adjacent to it, with the developers promising everything from "fine dining" to budget eateries.

There would be indoor and outdoor seating, creating a continental cafe style culture.

Unused space in and around Merchants Road would be filled in to cater for the eateries.

The old cinema building would also be available for new shops.

It has lasted 20 years, having opened up in 1991 as part of the £20 million Peel Centre development, but only has six screens.

Initial reaction to the project was very good – with Gloucester City Council backing it all the way.

Councillor Paul James, the leader, said: "This really is great news, I think it shows a huge amount of belief and determination Peel has in Gloucester.

"The Quays was opened in difficult economic times, some people's reaction to that might be to retreat, but this response is impressive."


Barry Leach, from Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership, said: "This is dramatic stuff, it is a very exciting change in the strategy for the Quays.

"It is great to see plans in the pipeline other than retail, in terms of the cinema and the restaurants.

"We are talking about a lot of jobs too."

The city's MP has also lauded the project.

Richard Graham said: "I think it's terrific news, the idea that a new cinema and restaurants will act as a catalyst is logical and will be welcomed by everyone."

The Peel Group, in conjunction with British Waterways, has already pumped more than £200 million into the city by opening up Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet in 2009.

To garner support for the scheme, it is staging exhibitions inside the outlet tomorrow and Thursday.

There will be drawings and images on display, and the chance to provide feedback.

Tomorrow, the exhibition will be at Eastgate Mall from 10am-5pm and Cineworld at the Peel Centre between 6-8pm.

On Thursday, it will be near the customer services desk at Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet from 10am-6pm.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:FOLLOWING the feedback from the exhibitions, Peel will formally submit a planning application to Gloucester City Council early next month.It would need the approval of the city council’s planning committee before any work starts.The committee meets monthly, and could consider the application around December time, or early next year.Under Government-led guidelines, local authorities aim to decide upon applications within four months of it being submitted.Work could then start as soon as approval is granted, with The Quayside leisure quarter, including the new cinema and restaurants, up and running in the autumn/winter of 2013.A grand opening ceremony is expected to take place to signify it.The demolition or revamp of the old cinema site, complete with extended floor space, would be complete by the summer of 2014.The 55,000 sq ft of floor space would be rented out to several shops.In terms of the rest of the Peel Centre, the remaining retail units will also be spruced up to give the entire complex a lift.

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  • Np57Np  |  April 11 2012, 5:52PM

    How many empty units are there? According to the interactive map, I counted over 50. Get out NOW. We did. Gloucester is a dump and nothing like it used to be 50 years ago. It has really gone down hill, and thousands of quality jobs have disappeared.

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  • Deadlock4d  |  December 12 2011, 11:24AM

    II've read through most of the 59 comments - interesting. There is a vast amount of negative feelings / comments but I also agree that pure positivity is a silly thing and we must be realistic with these "investments" etc. I at the tender age of 34 have been fortunate/lucky/hard working enough with my job to work in many of the major cities in the world and some of the remotest. Working within the vast legal world, I have reviewed many a development plan, sat on proposals, debated for /against investments all over. Gloucester could be a great city, but as we all know it is far from it BUT it has the size, the land, the commuter belt (M5 etc - don't knock it) some lovely houses (yes some not so nice!! but keep with me) There is a key word missing from the whole argument and that is ASPIRATION. A "city" is a powerful element with a heartbeat that "can" drive people in many directions, what I have noticed is that Gloucester drives people away, drives in the £1 shops etc - YES they are a problem! But they can be good when amongst CHOICE! People in general aspire to a good life some want better and some want the best, very little aspire basic (in my opinion and research) BUT if that is all that's on offer then the aspiration level will be set. Oh and by the way Gloucester city isn't limited to just the cross. I wrote the word "choice" earlier...well interestingly the majority of folks have mixed aspirations, so for me; I am happy with a few basics, sometimes occasions call for the best and the majority of times I would like the better things (e.g.: things that may last longer, hold value better, have to replace less frequently etc - not "because I want to show off!!") It's only a new cinema, restaurants (fine and otherwise) and a few new shops - indeed, but Gloucester inner city and otherwise needs change. Gloucester needs to keep me IN Gloucester instead of me looking elsewhere Cheltenham, Bristol, Birmingham, London and overseas. Guess what??...the above towns / cities only have a cinema, restaurants and a few new shops and great choice to go to £1 shops, middle row shops and the odd high brow shops. Regardless of where it's positioned, this investment and improvement NEEDS to be done, it is needed to provide "something" to and for Gloucester (Gloucestershire) residents, needs to draw money "IN" for further development, investment and ROI (Returns on Investment = reinvestment / trust etc), needs to raise the aspiration levels, the "can-do" attitude, needs to keep people in Gloucester, needs to be a real competitor against other competitors and needs to provide choice.

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  • J13Mariner  |  September 28 2011, 9:10PM

    01 4 London. Yes you are right to a point, but the other 530 jobs at low rate would require me to come into Gloucester with a bus load that currently do not do so. A muppet food takeaway, with a chocolate world experience will not drag me out of the snug, my pipe, and glass of mild to do so.

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  • Andyman123  |  September 28 2011, 2:08PM

    Good at last. As a Gloucester resident I've always gone to Cheltenham to view films because the Gloucester cinema was so poor in comparison. The picture was less sharp, sound worse and toilets dire. I might even buy a monthly ticket to Cineworld if this gets built !

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  • Eastgate Computers  |  September 28 2011, 1:40PM

    This is exactly what Gloucester needs, the previous expansion plan for the existing cinema was awful and wouldnt have improved the whole cinema with new improvements like stadium seating, leg room, Hi def sound etc... Ok the cinema isnt for everyone but Im sure anyone who enjoys going will appreciate that at the moment the Gloucester Cineworld is not a good cinema to go to. I personaly travel to Cheltenham, Stroud or Cribbs causeway and have done for at least the last 12 years. This new plan will change that and mean i can go to my local cinema as I will actually enjoy it rather than feel that Id have done better watching a pirated movie at home (which I have never done). Also this will be enough to encourage new resturants and food outlets at the Quays which to be honest has always been lacking and probably hasnt helped the shopping part of the complex as visitors have always felt disapointed by the lack of eating facilities. overall this is definetely a boost that is needed as everything helps each other and creates a day out.

  • GiH73  |  September 28 2011, 1:21PM

    There have been several attempts at drawing up a 'connected' plan. GHURC's 'magnificent seven' was one of the latest. This did join up different parts of the city, eg the Docks, The Quays, Blackfriars, Greyfriars and Kings Quarter. However, in the current climtae developers aren't going to jump on board and start developing in all of those areas and the council is broke. So we should be thankful that Peel are willing to develop the new leisure complex at The Quays now. The development of the whole city isn't going to happen overnight. This is a good next step and eventually all the new proposed developments may happen. At the minute we have to be thanful that any development is taking place. It's not in most other cities. I agree with other comments that more needs to be done to attract more businesss that pay good salaries and create good jobs (not more retail, minimum wage jobs). But we're more likely to attract those businesses to a vibrant city with good facilities. The two go hand-in-hand.

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  • London011  |  September 28 2011, 1:08PM

    J13M...yes that part is true...but it only accounts for (i guess 20-30 of the jobs) I would be staggered if the cinema employed 550 people! The other jobs will be in new shops/bars/restaurants! CJBrit...are you going to pay for this plan? Or should we be thanking those who are inveting hundreds of millions into Gloucester? Blackfriars is currently being renovated. The builders are in as we speak!

  • cjbritton  |  September 28 2011, 12:30PM

    A connected plan would look like this: Gloucester City Council creating an overal vision for the city, including planned developments, to identify gaps and ensure there is a complete re-development of the city. What you have in reality is a number of planned developments with no one group ensuring they tie up and all fit in. A revamped Cinema is not going to pull in loads of people - only a complete redevelopment of the entire city centre would do this along with better policing and anti-social behaviour plans. There are no plans to develop Blackfriars and of course yet another supermarket planned for the Railway Triangle. As for Kings Square - only River Island are on board - the developer is not yet able to find any other large company willing to commit to the scheme which is likely to take many, many years before starting - if it ever does of course... And no it hasn't started already (as some people claim) - there have been plans to demolish and fill in the toilets for years and that was done by the council not the developer.

  • J13Mariner  |  September 28 2011, 11:36AM

    If thgey want rid of the boarding, then does this plan have a hotel? And what of the dereliction of the previous cinema complex?

  • GlosJ_26  |  September 28 2011, 11:11AM

    What a great plan. Seems to be the right way of thinking!! lets hope GCC see sense and wave this through!! Just a shame so many people are so negative about our city. To people who say its not central..... planning guidance dictates the city centre boundary lies on the inner ring road so thats along St. Annes way over the new bridge and then north along llanthony road) so this is. There are plenty of restaurant units vacant at the quays already, hopefully with the cinema more food/ beverage companies (both independant and chains) will invest and open in the area. Once Blackfriars and Baker Quay gets developed it will all tie in!! People seem to forget the Quays opened in the midst of the biggest recession in a generation, but recessions come and go, and when it does the people of gloucester will have somewhere to go in the evening. Theres a real danger with certain developments that councils encourage developement for the sake of getting rid of hoardings, and filling any piece of spare land. But lets hope they keep thier eyes on the end goal, keep the "entertainment hub" central, keep a good balance of job opportunities and plan for a better city for everyone. Gloucester may just be turning a corner here!! fingers crossed