Decision made on £30m city development

The Downings Apartments Building Entrance CGI

Gloucester City Council’s planning committee has given its decision on the Baker’s Quay development – and it went down to the wire.

Council officers had recommended planning permission for the £30 million project at the gateway of Gloucester Quays be granted, despite objections from a number of sources. Punchline was at the meeting last night (April 4) to hear the debate and the final decision. After a heated discussion, permission was granted for the development.

Four councillors voted in favour of the proposals and four against, with committee chair, Cllr Gordon Taylor (Con, Abbeymead) giving the casting vote in support of the plans.

The proposal is for a 10-storey block of flats – with a total of 117 apartments, ranging from studio to three bedrooms, to create Gloucesters most energy efficient building, whilst also restoring the heritage of the site.

Rokeby Merchant Developments Ltd has now been granted planning permission for listed building consent for the alteration, including partial demolition, restoration, development and extension of Downings Malthouse and the High Orchard Street Warehouse, plus the creation of a new basement level in Downings Malthouse accessed from Merchants Road to provide car parking, together with an extension and bridge link to Downings Malthouse Extension.

Adrian Goodall of Rokeby Merchant Developments was at the meeting to outline the proposals to the committee. The committee had also paid a visit to the site in December, to help them to understand the scope of the scheme.

Councillors expressed concern about the height of the project, but having 10 storeys is the only way to make it financially viable. Initial plans had included ground floor restaurants, but they would have led to a 5% loss.

The current plans will deliver profits of just 6-8%. The project will be delivered in two phases, with profit from the first phase bankrolling the second phase.

Cllr Sarah Sawyer (LD, Longlevens) was one of those opposed to the proposals. She listed a number of organisations which had objected to the scheme.

Cllr Sawyer said: “We shouldn’t worry about the threat of an appeal. I say no to this. Someone will come along with a better design.”

Cllr Steve Morgan, (Con, Grange) vice chair of the committee, was in support of the scheme.
He said: “We have an application that would clear up a site which has been an eyesore for many years. I support the application.”

Cllr Paul Toleman (Con, Westgate), said: “This has been a mess for quite some time. I’d hate to think what would happen if we don’t support this application.”

Cllr Gordon Taylor, committee chair, said: “I’m broadly supportive of the site after the visit. They will be bringing back one of the historic buildings. It will be beautiful when it’s finished. I’m relaxed that it won’t be a huge building towering over the Quays.”

Adrian Goodall spoke to editor, Mark Owen, this morning (April 5) about the result.

He said: “Relief after five years and five schemes that we’ve finally got a scheme that has got planning consent. I just want to get on with it now! It’s a good scheme, it’s the right scheme for Gloucester.
“It delivers the regeneration of Downings Malthouse and it also delivers new apartments with the latest technology and a place to work and live.”

Punchline said: “It’s good news for the city that this development has been given the go-ahead. Not only will it tidy up an eyesore and restore historic buildings at one of the gateways to the city, but it will provide much-needed homes in the most sustainable residential development in the city.”

The area behind Gloucester Quays has been derelict for 25 years.

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