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Cheltenham Borough Council is seeking a development partner(s) to deliver the Golden Valley proposals.
The indicative procurement timetable is as follows:
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Spring 2021
News

Review of 2020

Programme Manager
GFirst LEP

REVIEW OF 2020

We spoke to Golden Valley’s Programme Manager, Neil Hopwood, about the challenges and highlights of 2020…

How badly has the coronavirus pandemic hit Cheltenham and Gloucestershire?

NH: "At the moment it’s too soon to know the full extent of the impact, but it’s fair to say that it’s been extremely disruptive to many sectors. An obvious one is that Cheltenham is known far and wide for its festivals and visitor economy, which have been badly affected by covid restrictions. The Festivals team with support from Cheltenham Borough Council did a stellar job of creating online events but it’s not the same as the real thing. I’m also chair of the Gloucestershire Culture Trust and indoor events particularly have not been possible and I know a lot of people in this sector are having to find other ways of earning a living. When will we get back to where we were? Clearly, we will do everything we can but my fear is it could take a year or two to fully recover."

How badly has the pandemic affected plans for the Golden Valley Development?

NH: "Thankfully the project has been less effected than a lot of others, however, there have been two main issues. The first was we were due to take our plans to the annual MIPIM property showcase in France in March, but obviously that had to be cancelled. Ahead of that we had put ourselves under pressure to create the branding and media assets, such as the launch video for Golden Valley, so at least we had those which are sensational and have had an incredibly positive response. We also had to delay the market launch by a couple of months, but I have to say since going live with the website we’ve had overwhelmingly positive support, in particular from the cyber sector which has been very resilient despite – and potentially because of – the covid situation."

Looking back on 2020 what have been the key highlights for the Golden Valley Development?

NH: "The big one would be the market launch as I’ve mentioned, but there have been plenty of other highlights during what has been a challenging year.

"For instance, in July we saw the publication of the Supplementary Planning Document which effectively sets the framework for the whole development. It’s an excellent piece of work, very clear and engaging, and I would urge as many people as possible to have a look. Another highlight is the fact we are now down to the final selection phase for the developer of Golden Valley. All three on the shortlist have extremely exciting plans for the site and it will be incredibly hard to choose just one partner. We should celebrate the fact that 2020 saw work begin on the A40, part of the West Cheltenham Transport Improvement schemes. We also saw an announcement for the M5 junction 10 upgrade that will deliver huge benefits to the town generally as well as provide superb access to the site itself.

"It was also great to see the green light for the Minster Innovation Exchange which in a way will act as a test run for Cyber Central. It’s going to be a fantastic regeneration scheme and an interesting new venue, including an indoor-outdoor performance space for about 300 people. Finally, because of covid the CyNam (Cyber Cheltenham) events moved from being physical to becoming a live broadcast with very high production values. A happy consequence of this is that they have reached not just a UK-wide audience, but an international one with thousands tuning in to find out what’s happening. So, Cheltenham and The Golden[AK3] Valley Development have been pushed to a far wider audience than they might have if the events were just a couple of hundred people in a conference venue."

What will be the Golden Valley Development’s key milestone for 2021?

NH: "Undoubtedly the big one will be when we announce who is going to be our development partner. It’s been a long and challenging road to get this far, and we have achieved some truly great things in 2020, but when the development partner is selected the project will pick up even more momentum – it’s going to be an exciting year ahead!"

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