LDO sign-off triggers project to link Gloucester’s docks and city centre

Gloucester’s £135m waterfront regeneration scheme moved closer to fruition this summer after communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid signed a local development order (LDO) providing the final piece in the planning jigsaw.

Over the past two years, Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucester City Council have worked together with partners to create the LDO to kickstart the regeneration of the Blackfriars and Quayside area of the city. The masterplan includes student accommodation, shops, restaurants, community services buildings and new homes on the 2.9 ha of land.

This is an important area of Gloucester city centre, linking the docks, the cathedral and the River Severn - Paul James, Gloucester City Council

“This is an important area of Gloucester city centre, linking the docks, the cathedral and the River Severn,” says Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council. “Regeneration of this area has eluded the city for decades but is now well under way. It complements the many other regeneration projects currently being undertaken in Gloucester.”

The order covered the area around - but not including - Gloucester Prison and includes the Barbican car park off Ladybellegate Street, the now demolished Gloucester Magistrates’ Court and former office building Quayside House.

Linking up

Following these enabling works, construction has now started at Ladybellegate Street car park as City Heart, a developer specialising in collaboration with the public sector, prepares to deliver 295 flats for the University of Gloucestershire. A county-council-run centre for children and adults on the site of the magistrates’ court has also been granted consent.

The two councils hope the sites will provide a much-needed link between the docks and the city centre.

“The £4m growth fund secured by Gloucestershire LEP has been key in enabling regeneration of the Blackfriars area of the city,” says Dorian Wragg, commercial partner at Bruton Knowles. “This mixed-use development is not only helping to reinvigorate the area but will in itself lead to further regeneration of the surrounding area by attracting and encouraging developers, investors and innovative occupiers to take an interest in the city.”

Wragg points to the agency’s sale of 27-29 Commercial Road on behalf of the council as a barometer of how pace is gathering at the site since the LDO. “This once-derelict building is now being converted into a restaurant by the purchaser L&R Urban Space,” he says. “Located next to the museum, the restaurant will have a high-profile pitch on an improving retail pitch in the Quayside area.”

Attractive draw

Despite the positivity surrounding recent events, no further development partners have been announced.

“Developers won’t come on board unless they know central government is working with local government to deliver this,” Javid said when the LDO was granted.

We want to make Gloucester an even more vibrant city - Mark Hawthorne, Gloucestershire County Council

However, many believe the £135m masterplan will persuade other developers to follow City Heart’s lead, and soon.

Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, is positive about the city’s prospects.

“Working alongside our partners, including the city council, GFirst LEP and University of Gloucestershire, we want to make Gloucester an even more vibrant city,” he says.

It has been a long time coming but, with the LDO signed off, Blackfriars could soon become the much-needed new link between the docks and the city centre - and provide the shot in the arm the area needs.

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