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Jason Wasley (managing director, Aqua); Paul Howells (operations manager, Aqua); Laurence Aston (head of new development, Aqua); Maria Bond (chair of GCH board); Jon McGinty (managing director, Gloucestershire City Council); Guy Stenson (chief executive, GCH); Derek Gibbs (construction director, Aqua)

Aqua Construction completes Northgate Mansions for Gloucester City Homes

This development with its distinctive cladding forms part of the £104 million landmark King’s Quarter development and is part of the Gloucester city regeneration programme, which also features the iconic Forum building.

On the brownfield site, former Stoate & Bishop print works, Aqua Construction has completed an impressive five-storey apartment building that comprise 25 apartments for social rent including retail space to the ground floor.

This project marks Aqua Construction’s 22nd project in partnership with Gloucester City Homes.

Aqua Construction acquired the land through Ash & Co Chartered Surveyors and further developed the design with Quattro Design Architects and Gloucester City Council’s planning department, to manage the project through to finished construction. The design features strong links to existing architecture in King’s Quarter.

Northgate Street is one of the four original Roman streets in Gloucester and remains the truest of all four gate streets to its ancient form, although the streetscape has changed down the centuries.

The site holds significant historic importance and involved working in close partnership with the City Archaeologist, archaeological consultants Cotswold Archaeology of Cirencester and structural engineering firm, O’Brien & Price (Stroud), to develop an engineering solution to protect the medieval and roman remains. A specialist piling rig, of which only two exist in Europe, was brought in to excavate the 14m-deep piled foundations that use protective casings to preserve the medieval and roman assets that lay beneath the site.

The 263sq.m of gold coloured vertical cladding forms a major aesthetic feature of the building and sits below the sustainable green roof which delivers inner city environmental benefits. The 124-tonne steel frame building is highly insulated for energy efficiency.

During the 22 months build programme, Aqua worked with 45 contractors employing over 380 workers, equating to a staggering 58,000 person-hours. During the intensive seven-month brick and block laying phase 78,000 bricks and 30,000 concrete blocks were used.

Again, drawing on the location, the embossed patterns on the balconies replicate features seen in nearby Gloucester Cathedral’s cloisters. The city centre location encourages the use of local transport services and boasts a cleverly designed bike storage for residents.

Aqua is proud that over 90% were either local labour or local suppliers to the project from across Gloucestershire, transforming the original 650sq.m site into a gross floor area of 1930 sq.m.

Jason Wasley, managing director of Aqua Construction, said: “It has been fantastic to work on such a key building central to the regeneration of the city. The team is exceptionally proud to have been involved and it highlights how far we have come as a construction company. It showcases what Aqua can deliver in such a prestigious location.

“The project is testament to the ongoing partnerships Aqua has with Gloucester City Homes, the architect and the planning department, also many local suppliers, sub-contractors, and trades throughout the county.

“We believe that affordable, quality homes in well-designed places are key to improving people’s lives. In a bid to accelerate the pace of house building and regeneration across Gloucestershire, we are proud to construct homes in areas that people are proud to live in.”

Derek Gibbs, construction director added: “It has been a very technical build from the foundations up, working around historic archaeological remains on site and designing the 124-tonnes steel frame. The result is an impressive building at the heart of the city, uplifting the area and adding to the regeneration of the King’s Quarter.”

Michael Hill, executive director of customer experience at GCH said: “It is a proud moment for GCH to launch Northgate Mansions at such a key site in the city. Truly affordable housing like this improves health and education outcomes and enhances overall community stability and well-being.  And because these homes are right in the city centre, with rail and transport links literally on the doorstep, they are ideal for modern, sustainable living. These new homes will open doors for employment inside and outside the city.”

Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “We are committed to increasing the number of affordable homes in the city as part of the multi-million pound regeneration taking place across Gloucester.  These new apartments, a key part of the Forum project, will go some way to achieving that along with the new urban village at St Oswald’s that will see 100 homes for social rent, and 100 sold under shared ownership.”

The development was completed on schedule and handed over to the client, GCH, in March 2024. Residents have already moved in to all 25 apartments and the retail unit to the ground floor has been let to a local gentlemen’s hairdressing business.

In the last five years, Aqua Construction has delivered over 200 new homes in the Gloucester community.