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26th January 2004
Plans for Prime Office Core to be
based on public’s preferred option

Plans for the new Prime Office Core in central Leicester will be based on the public’s preferences, expressed in a recent consultation exercise. The overall concept of the Office Core was positively received by the Leicester public, and detailed work will now go forward based on the option which received most support. The results of the first phase of public consultation for this key scheme were announced today by the Leicester Regeneration Company (LRC).

Of the two options put forward, the first was highlighted as the public’s preference: it reroutes St George’s Way across the existing station car park to join a ‘widened’ Station Street, which will accommodate the amount of traffic currently using the ring road. As the favoured option, this proposal will ensure a large new area of new office development, with new housing and leisure adding variety, and with uninterrupted pedestrian access between the station, the office area, and the city centre.

During early October 2003, over 500 people visited the LRC public exhibition held at Leicester Railway Station, Leicester Mercury and the Haymarket Shopping Centre and left their suggestions and preferences with LRC personnel. An additional 54 responses, with detailed comments, were returned to the LRC through the Leicester Mercury supplement. The consultation programme also included targeted presentations to local businesses and other key partners.

Many of those attending the event supported the planned changes for the railway station, but suggested the removal of the existing taxi point currently located in the station forecourt. Ideas offered for new uses of the existing station building included a restaurant, retail and exhibition facilities.

Although the majority of responses felt the plans would deliver a positive change for central Leicester, the importance of quality design, accessibility, transport links and safety issues were also stressed by the public. A number of comments were received advising the LRC to consider retaining the quality buildings and architecture present in the area. The LRC will be incorporating these suggestions into the new scheme including the preservation of the railway station and police station façades. Public opinion also favoured mixing office development with housing, retail and leisure uses, and suggested the office core be complemented with ample green space, with the height of future office buildings limited to 7 storeys. There was majority support for the proposed additional car parking.

A key issue on which LRC sought views concerned ways in which Leicester people could benefit form the development. Many felt they would benefit from the new job opportunities created by the scheme, but felt that the barriers to them doing so included transport, having the necessary skills, and cost. Additional suggestions offered by local citizens included considering energy efficient developments and removal of the subways in central Leicester.

Chris White, Development Director at the LRC said:
“We were very impressed at the level and depth of response the public provided to the options we proposed for the Prime Office Core, and very grateful for peoples’ time and trouble. On the whole, our suggestions were well received by the public and we are now incorporating their views into our detailed plans for delivery. Plans for the Prime Office Core will be finalised by February 2004, with work due to start on site in 2005. Our plans will now be based on the first of our two options, preferred by a large majority of people who responded, and we shall also be taking all the other comments carefully into account”

The two principal options for the relocation of the ring road and the overall design of building layout and spaces were drawn up by a specialist team of consultants led by Benoy, an internationally recognised architecture and design consultancy appointed by the LRC to produce an urban design development framework for this project.

The prime office core 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: the Prime Office Core, a Science and Technology Park at Abbey Meadows, 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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