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30th August 2005

Full Speed Ahead on New Business Quarter

The development of Leicester’s New Business Quarter is set to move forward with more certainty after a potential question mark on its completion has been removed.

Leicester Regeneration Company has announced that plans to move the ring road around the railway station will not be going ahead. It means the second phase of the project can progress without waiting for government road funding.

Original plans for the New Business Quarter included diverting the ring road nearer to the rail tracks, to give an uninterrupted pedestrian environment between the new offices and the city centre. The City Council was on track to apply to the Department for Transport (DfT) to cover the cost as part of the July 2005 Local Transport Plan.

John Nicholls, chief executive of Leicester Regeneration Company, said: “Not moving the ring road became likely when DfT made it clear there was to be much less money available for projects such as ours. Even if our bid had been successful, the money wouldn’t necessarily have been available for a long time.

“ These factors would have meant the second phase of the New Business Quarter being held up until the funding came forward, so we started looking at alternatives. The original concept was a great idea, but not if we can’t be sure of delivering it. We now have a design which keeps all the main principles, including new, high-quality public spaces at the heart of the New Business Quarter. The key now is to design ways to reduce the effect the retained road will have on pedestrian links to the city centre: attractive, high-grade pedestrian crossings will be the answer.

“ We are well on with negotiations to develop the first phase of the New Business Quarter and are starting to look for developers for the second. The greater certainty created by this news will certainly make the project more attractive to potential developers and to potential occupants of the new offices, such as government departments, who are working to short time-scales for their decisions.”

Alistair Reid, Service Director, Highways and Transportation, at Leicester City Council, added: "Following news from DfT about the difficulty in securing funding, not moving the ring road is the right decision. We will continue to work with Leicester Regeneration Company to develop plans for the area."

The New Business Quarter is one of Leicester Regeneration Company’s five key projects for the physical regeneration of central Leicester. Work is expected to start this year on the Science and Technology Park and good progress is being made on plans for the Waterside, New Community and the upgrading of the retail circuit.

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