“We want to get on with it” – that’s the message from Rokeby Merchant, developers of Bakers Quay in Gloucester.
The first phase of the development – the Provender apartments, Premier Inn hotel, Beefeater restaurant and Costa Coffee – was completed in Summer 2018, but Downings Malthouse and the Malthouse Extension,( the second phase adjacent heritage buildings) are still derelict after 20 years of standing empty, with limited time to save them.
Planning permission exists for the buildings to be converted to apartments and new commercial units created, but the commercial viability of the undeveloped phases is still challenging – especially in light of the Coronavirus crisis.
Scaffolding was erected around Downings Malthouse from May 2019 in order to shore up the building and protect the public. In recent weeks, the concrete silo at Downings Malthouse has been demolished, further highlighting the poor condition of the building. The developers insist they want to save the remaining heritage but in order to make this phase viable they will be submitting a fresh planning application to build a new apartment block on the site of the now demolished silo and are promising to ensure it has a “wow factor”.
Adrian Goodall, Director of Rokeby Merchant said, “We’re committed to doing everything we can to save the heritage at Bakers Quay, despite some people saying it would be easier just to demolish Downings. We see the historic character of the buildings as being what makes the site unique and we believe people in Gloucester would want to see them restored and given a new lease of life. When we come out of the current Coronavirus crisis projects like these help get the economy moving again. With support from our partners, the City Council and Homes England, we can progress and save part of the city’s heritage for future generations.”
The Bakers Quay site, which sits next to Gloucester Quays and the Gloucester to Sharpness canal, was acquired by Rokeby Merchant in April 2016, with assistance from Gloucester City Council and Homes England. Planning permission for the scheme, with a total of 162 apartments, was approved by the City Council’s Planning Committee in March 2016.
Rokeby Merchant plans to submit the new planning application in mid July and aim to be on site early in 2021.