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16th March 2004
Public contribute to future of Abbey Meadows and the new science and technology park

Plans revealed by the Leicester Regeneration Company (LRC) for the future of the Abbey Meadows site in Leicester, were received positively by the majority of local residents and public at a consultation exercise in December 2003.

Many of the issues and aspirations raised are already inherent in the LRC’s approach to the new Science and Technology Park and residential development proposed. Key issues for the public focused on the need for safe attractive public spaces, provision of disabled access and accommodating the needs of the local community. The feedback is now being developed in more detail by the LRC and will be included in the scheme’s implementation.

At the end of last year, around 300 people visited the public exhibitions held by the LRC at the National Space Centre, Sainsbury’s and Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre and left their comments with LRC representatives. This was supplemented with a further 40 more detailed responses forwarded on via the Leicester Mercury supplement. Targeted presentations to local residents, community groups, businesses and other key stakeholders in the city were also carried out.

A key concern for some of the local residents in the area was the relationship between the planned new development and the River Soar. The retention of a high quality river corridor has always been a consistent objective of the LRC’s redevelopment plans in this area; however in January 2004 a petition signed by some local residents stressed the retention of public space, particularly the green open areas adjacent to the riverside. Following a letter of acknowledgement to the petitioners, BDP, the consultants working on this scheme, John Nicholls, Chief Executive, LRC and Peter Conboy, Development Director at the LRC met up with representatives of the Riverside Residents Group earlier this year to discuss their concerns. Further work is now being undertaken on the masterplan for the Abbey Meadows to ensure the character of the river corridor is maintained and the output from this additional work will be communicated to the petitioners.

In general, respondents welcomed the plans for the residential, work space and leisure facilities. Retraining local people so they are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to take advantage of the many new jobs created was a key request by respondents. Affordable housing, family friendly facilities and greater provision of doctors and schools were all high priority.

In general, support was granted for the new access points and pedestrian friendly walkways and bridges. However, land mark buildings were asked to be retained and buildings requested not to exceed 2/3 storeys. Suggestions for the use of new buildings included: cafes, restaurants, retail, health and community centres and schools.

Feedback from the public suggested traffic management schemes should be adopted to counteract the increase in the number of cars travelling to and from the area. Creating an arboretum at the heart of the site and naming roads to reflect the heritage of Leicester, were ideas also put forward to develop local culture.

John Nicholls, Chief Executive at the LRC said: “We have met representatives of the Riverside Residents Group to discuss and understand their vision for the future of Abbey Meadows and will continue to consult with this group and other local residents on a regular basis in the coming years. The masterplan is now being developed to take account of the suggestions put forward. On the whole, the comments provided were very positive and we can now move ahead to prepare supplementary planning guidance and a planning application for the successful delivery of this project.

The Abbey Meadows development is one part of the jigsaw in the plan to regenerate central Leicester. Back in June 2002, the LRC consulted the Leicester public on its masterplan for the city. Widely supported, the masterplan defines five key development projects around the city centre: a Science and Technology Park at Abbey Meadows, Prime Office Core, regeneration of the city’s Waterside, a New Community of around 2000 homes in the Lee Circle area, and a widening of Leicester’s Retail Core. Visit leicesterregeneration.co.uk


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