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City Mayor reveals proposals for Clock Tower area

Published on 18 January 2017

THE AREA around Leicester’s Clock Tower is set to be transformed under proposals announced by City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

New investment in the area will allow two popular shopping streets – Belgrave Gate/Haymarket and Church Gate – to be reconstructed with high quality materials, similar to those used on nearby Silver Street and Guildhall Lane.

Under the proposals, traffic would be removed from the streets from 11am until 5am each day – in line with the rest of Leicester’s pedestrian zone. 

New trees on Belgrave Gate would further enhance the approach to the Clock Tower.

To pave the way for the streets’ pedestrianisation, a new road would be created, linking Belgrave Gate with Mansfield Street and providing a quick route out of the city centre for buses leaving the Haymarket Bus Station.

The new link road – for buses only – would remove the need for buses to use Haymarket and Church Gate.

Together with an upgraded Sandacre Street, it would also form a new pedestrian route between the Haymarket bus station and St Margaret’s bus station.

The major scheme – which would cost around £7million – is part of the City Mayor’s Connecting Leicester project, which is improving routes through the city centre for pedestrians while making it more attractive to investors and developers.

“It’s vital that we regenerate this high-profile part of the city centre and create a safer – and more attractive – environment for pedestrians in the area around the Clock Tower,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

“Having already announced my intention to support the reopening of the Haymarket Theatre – a scheme that will bring new jobs and new life to the area – I’m now pleased to outline these further proposals for this key part of the city centre.

“By removing the buses, and by upgrading the environment on Belgrave Gate and Church Gate, we will give private developers the confidence to invest in the shops and businesses in the area – and that’s something that I’m sure will be welcomed by local traders.”

If plans get the go-ahead, bus stops in the Clock Tower area would be relocated to the new link road, taxis would pick up and drop off near the steps to the Haymarket Theatre, while parking provision would be made elsewhere in the area for Blue Badge holders.

Subject to planning permission and the acquisition of the required land, work on the new link road could get under way in April 2018. Once work starts on site, the new road would take around eight months to build. The pedestrianisation of Haymarket/Church Gate could then get under way in 2019.

The Belgrave Gate and Mansfield Street Link Road and Improvement Scheme is supported by the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

Proposals to restore Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre – which requires significant investment to bring it up to the standards required for a modern performance and training venue – are included in the city council’s Economic Action Plan.

The City Mayor announced his intention to support plans to reopen the theatre as a space for live music and performance last June.

The consortium that will run the venue also hopes to host e-sports events, filling the 800-seat auditorium with enthusiasts who will pay to watch professional gamers on a big screen.

Before the building can reopen to the public, works to restore essential services will need to be carried out.

The auditorium will be refurbished – with new seats and new sound and lighting systems – and a café/licensed bar will be installed. The foyer and entrance areas will be modernised, while retaining the original look and feel of the old Haymarket Theatre. 

A formal decision on the proposed £3million investment in the Haymarket Theatre is due to be taken on 26 January.

The planning application for the new Belgrave Gate-Mansfield Street link road is due to be submitted by the end of the month.