Statement by Jeremy Hilton, Lib Dem Leader – King’s Quarter Business Plan

It has taken some time, but at last we have a plan for the King’s Quarter that replaces the defunct retail led scheme. Liberal Democrats had long called for a plan B, when it was obvious the original scheme was going nowhere. I welcome the new plan drawn up by the council’s consultants, which will be a genuine mixed use scheme.

I am pleased that we shall retain Kings Square as a public open space and that it will not be built on as was the case in the original retail led scheme. However, there is still a lot of design work to do in making sure that the refurbished square is something we can all be proud of and enjoy.

It is critical that we get the layout of the development and the quality of the architecture right so that the development becomes an impressive gateway into the city centre from both the railway station and bus station. There will also be a new car park with 428 spaces and I hope the designers ensure that it will be a safe and pleasant place to use. The proposed hotel should also be of the quality that will boost Gloucester’s offer and attract people back to the city.

Kings Quarter should also be the location of a modern and good quality indoor market to replace the tired market at the Eastgate Shopping Centre. Markets need a good footfall and the development at Kings Quarter should provide a location near to the transport hubs for specialist market traders to thrive.

It will be important that the development is a high quality build and of a design that wins architectural awards. I believe the consultants have got it right in proposing four phases of the development. The inclusion of residential units in the plans must also be welcomed.

Finally, I do think the city council cabinet has missed a golden opportunity to move its offices to the King’s Quarter. The cabinet is considering selling the offices at Herbert, Kimberly and Phillpotts warehouses and moving into Shire Hall. I think we should seriously consider building new council offices in the King’s Quarter, helping to kickstart the regeneration of this area just as we did in the 1980’s when we moved our offices to the Docks. The business plan does include up to 100,000 sq feet of office space.

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