Gloucester has unveiled plans for a digital-come-lifestyle development which aims to transform the city centre.
Gloucester Forum, targeting a 2023 opening, will feature two smart offices spanning over 100,000sq ft, a 131-bedroom four-star hotel, 43 apartments, retail facilities, member’s club, gym, creative hub, public spaces, transport hub (new bus station, revamped train station) and 398 car parking spaces. The project is being developed by Reef Group with Gloucester City Council.
The five-floor Two Cathedral View, while two floors less than One Cathedral View (85,121sq ft), is considerably larger at 18,868sq ft. Office letting is being handled by JLL.
Smart building technologies such rooftop PV electricity generation, low water usage fittings throughout and movement sensor controlled lighting will limit energy use. The project will reportedly cost around £107 million.
Gloucester seeks to draw young professionals away from London and capitalise on the remote and hybrid working trend, as well as its proximity to GCHQ and range of higher education colleges and universities.
The City Council has already published a digital strategy which aims to drive growth. In 2015 it claims it was the first city in the UK to implement a 3 in 1 solution with BT, delivering CCTV, free WiFi and 4G combined throughout the Gate Streets.
“Digital is not just about technology, it’s about changing the way people live, connect and work,” it states. “This strategy, therefore, is about how we will deliver the services and infrastructure our residents need in order to thrive and live happy, healthy lives in Gloucester, now and for years to come.”
Ensuring digital services reach all sectors remains a challenge. A new report warns the UK’s small and micro businesses will miss out on an estimated £827 billion growth opportunity over the next five years if they are not supported to digitise.
Technology has already played a critical role in supporting small businesses through the pandemic, with 41% of small business owners saying their company would not have survived without digital tools, according to Striving to Thrive: The state of play for micro and small businesses, commissioned by Mastercard from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).