I was pleased to see in the Citizen last week that the King’s Quarter project finally seems set to become a reality.
The developer, Stanhope, has appointed architects Chapman Taylor and the development will be complete by Christmas 2018. Meanwhile, construction on the new bus station will start ‘as early as next year’
That all seems like an awfully long way off, but after such a long and drawn out process it is good to see that things are finally on the move.
Of course you can expect an outpouring of cynicism and pessimism from the usual vocal elements of the city’s community.
After years of complaining ‘something has to be done to improve the city centre’ they’ll object to any moves to change anything.
After complaining about all of the pound shops, charity shops and bargain stores, they’ll complain that ‘Gloucester folk can’t afford these expensive new stores planned for the city’.
But hopefully everyone will hold their nerve and this time progress will actually be made. If the plans for Blackfriars also manage to get traction, Gloucester could actually become the great city that it deserves to be.
That is not to say that I am entirely without cynicism myself.
My concerns mainly lie in the design of the development.
Hopefully they will be unfounded: Chapman Taylor won the ‘Best Retail Architecture in the World’ Award at the International Property Awards at the end of last year for the Global Harbor Shanghai, so that bodes well.
Hopefully that means they haven’t yet been involved in any design work, because the artist’s impression used in the Citizen does not inspire.
Oh, it looks nice enough, if a bit uninspiring, in the artist’s impression – but then artist’s impressions always do.
However, the plain, box like structure puts me in mind of the building work on the old Gloscat media site in Brunswick Road.
That is a similar shape. Maybe it has yet to be rendered or clad in some way that will transform it, but at the moment it doesn’t look promising. It has just enough design added to turn it from bland and nondescript to plain ugly.
And having ‘admired’ the new building you can turn 180 degrees and look at the library and museum opposite, built at the end of the nineteenth century, and wonder what on earth has gone wrong in the last 100 years.