The city of the future

Despite living in uncertain times, we have asked a number of authoritative people to speculate on future developments in Leicester.

What new buildings might we see on our sky-line in the next few years? What wheels are already in motion that might see brave new building projects in our city.


28th January 2013

Funding agreed to turn an historic factory into an extra care facility

THE CITY Mayor and his executive team have agreed a £750,000 contribution towards a new £8.75m extra care facility in the city. The historic Abbey Mills building, in Abbey Park Lane, will be transformed into a facility that supports a range of vulnerable adults, including people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and older people. Assistant City Mayor, Cllr Rita Patel said “Not only will this redevelopment provide much-needed supported living accommodation, it will be preserving an important building in Leicester’s architectural heritage.”

It is proposed that the refurbishment of Abbey Mills will connect to the adjoining Wolsey building via a walkway. This will enable people living in Abbey Mills to benefit from the facilities in the Wolsey building. This development, when complete, will link to our Wolsey Building next door, which also provides extra-care to the over 55s – creating a landmark extra care hub in the East Midlands. Together they will ensure an area of great historical value in Leicester is preserved for generations to come. The project is set to be completed by March 2015.

[Source: Leicester City Council]

New Public Square for Leicester

The city council wants to hear views on the design ideas for Jubilee Square, which will be located in St Nicholas Circle, before more detailed work begins.

An exhibition of the proposals is taking place at Wygston’s House this week, with the next sessions on November 28th from 4pm-6pm, and November 29th from noon to 2pm.

The designs reveal a welcoming open space with a mix of large, lawned areas and hard landscaping, softened by mature trees and colourful planting. The hard-standing spaces would be large enough to accommodate a ferris wheel or ice-rink at Christmas, and could be a venue for temporary events and festivals.

People would be encouraged to use the lawned areas for picnics, and as places to meet and relax. Seating would also be provided throughout the square. The western edge of the square, which faces the road, would become a terraced garden. A series of attractive perforated panels would run along it to screen the western edge of the site from the road.

After dark, white lighting will be used to up-light trees, show off features on the front of buildings fronting the square, and illuminate the perforated panels. The park and ride bus stops currently located in St Nicholas Circle will move to a layby on the western edge of the square opposite the Holiday Inn. Quality bus shelters will be provided as part of the move.

Paths across the square will give visitors clear and easily accessible routes to the High Street, Peacock Lane, Castle Park and Jewry Wall Museum, as well as to the bus stops and the road crossing. The taxi rank situated opposite the park and ride stops will move to the corner of Highcross Street. And disabled parking spaces will be made available at the back of Wygston’s House replacing those lost from St Nicholas Circle.

Access to the Highcross car park will still be available via a route running along the northern edge of the square as at present. Discussions are also under way to establish whether alternative short-stay, surface level car parking can be established on a nearby site. People have until Dec 19th to return their comments.

As well as visiting the exhibition they can also make their views known on the council’s website at Connecting Leicester is a £19 million scheme that will improve the links between shopping, leisure, heritage, housing and transport facilities in the city.

[Source: Leicester City Council]

16th November 2013

Future of historic building safeguarded

A HISTORIC building which was recently ravaged by fire has been safeguarded for future generations in a decision by Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby to buy the site. The City Mayor has announced the move to buy the Friars Mill complex off Bath Lane, on the banks of the River Soar, in order to preserve the listed buildings and prevent them falling into further decay.

The Friars Mill complex and adjacent car park has been bought for £550,000, with immediate work starting to ensure the buildings safe and secure and to prevent further deterioration.

Longer-term options will then be drawn up for the future use of the building, as part of a wider development strategy for the Waterside Regeneration area along that area of the River Soar.

Friars Mill had been for sale on the open market when one of its key buildings – the former Donisthorpe Factory – was badly damaged by fire in July 2012. It led to urgent discussions between Leicester City Council and site owners Bank of Ireland over the future of the site, which contains the former factory, pump house and buildings facing onto Bath Lane itself. Immediately following the fire, Leicester City Council carried out urgent work under the planning and building control acts to ensure the damaged building was more securely guarded.

Entrances to the building were blocked up, fences and scaffolding were erected to secure the structure, and extra site security was put in place. Further works are currently being carried out to install a temporary roof structure to protect the building from water damage, as well as clearance work to take out any hazardous material from within the complex.

Peter Soulsby said: “The Friars Mill complex is the most significant group of listed buildings at risk in the city. Following the devastation caused by the recent fire, I took immediate action by using the council’s powers to secure and safeguard the structure of this privately-owned building.

“Having considered the options for the future of these important historic buildings, I feel strongly that decisive action should be taken to protect them and to pursue their acquisition, so this key part of Leicester’s industrial history can be preserved for future generations.

“As well as being locally important listed buildings, the Friars Mill complex also forms a central focus for the regeneration strategy for the Waterside area. I have asked my officers to prepare plans for restoring the listed buildings and bringing them back into use. I will also be looking at a renewed strategy for developing the Waterside area, which I hope will also encourage private sector investment in new development.”

[Source: Leicester City Council]