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16th May 2006
The Vision Becomes a Reality

Recent site clearances in Leicester at John Ellis School (left) and near the National Space Centre.

The changing skyline of Leicester is evidence that the city’s regeneration is making spectacular progress.

An estimated £3 billion is being invested in Leicester’s transformation with work now underway in four out of five key areas linked to Leicester Regeneration Company’s masterplan.

Leicester’s Science and Innovation Park is a step closer after the demolition of John Ellis School. Leicester City Council owns the land and is clearing it with financial support from emda. Outline planning permission has already been granted for 120,000 square feet of units, which will provide purpose-built research, development and production facilities to accommodate hi-tech businesses, including those ‘spun’ out of university research. Tenders were received before Easter and Leicester City Council is working with Leicester Regeneration Company to select a development partner. A decision on this is imminent.

Phase 2 of the Science and Innovation Park is a 17 acre site of which 8.4 acres is on a former Leicester City Council depot, now owned by emda, and 8.8 acres on the former Co-op depot site now owned by a developer. All this land has been cleared of buildings ready for development and submission of an outline planning application for Phase 2 is expected this month.

On Wolsey Island, Metropolitan Housing Partnership is on site to build 727 low energy homes on the former Frist Bus Depot on Abbey Park Road. First Bus in turn is relocating to a new site on Abbey Lane and work on this new bus depot has now started.

On the Waterside, Living in the City is close to completing 126 apartments at Westbridge Wharf. Metropolitan Housing Partnership is well advanced with the construction of 350 new homes at Leicester Square.

Westbridge Living have recently submitted their application for No 1 Westbridge, a high quality residential scheme designed by Ian Simpson Architects which comprises 354 units made up of a mix of studio apartments and 1, 2 and 3 bed units.

Developer interest is hotting up elsewhere in Waterside, with developer H-Group engaged in the Blackfriars area.  The proposals are for a mixed-use scheme of 500 to 600 apartments comprising studio and one, two and three-bed units. Also to be included is provision for Community Support Facilities and business start up units catering for small business and retail outlets.

In the New Business Quarter near the station Akeler is making headway with the development of 100,000 square feet of Grade A Offices. Work on 40 apartments and a restaurant by City and Thames Properties is due to commence in September.

The Retail Circuit is taking shape as Hammerson and Hermes, the joint owners and developers of the new Shires extension, have begun construction of the 60,000 meters square scheme, which will more than double the size of the existing Shires shopping centre to create a combined development of over 100,000 meters square.

Incorporating the city centre’s first multiplex cinema, the new Shires extension will include contemporary city-living style accommodation, open streets and squares, a new retail core anchored by a flagship John Lewis department store, and a new café and restaurant quarter at its heart. Over 50 per cent of the scheme’s available retail space has already been let, and this some two years ahead of completion.

Leicester City Council's £19 million development programme to improve the city centre’s streets and spaces is making progress with work well underway on Gallowtree Gate, Horsefair Street and Halford Street.

Developer H-Group has secured the sites for the St Georges New Community, a scheme for the planned development of 325 new homes in the Lee Circle area of the city centre. A planning application is to be submitted shortly for phase one of the development of 150 studio, one, two and three-bed residential units, with construction commencing early in 2007. The plans are focussed around centrally landscaped public and private courtyards. The scheme will also house small business units targeted at young start-up companies.

John Nicholls, chief executive of Leicester Regeneration Company, comments: “The regeneration of Leicester is making excellent progress. With major work having started in four out of five key projects Leicester is fast becoming a city with a bright future.”

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