Leicester office district plans postponed
The planned development of a major office district near Leicester railway station has been shelved, according to the city’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
Although the project had been aimed at attracting a host of new businesses, creating hundreds of jobs, the mayor no longer sees it as priority.
Leicester railway station had been earmarked as the centre of the district in order to encourage commuters from the surrounding regions.
However, the mayor has now chosen to back plans for the development of office blocks on two plots of land in Vaughan Way on the opposite side of the city, where construction and letting is likely to take significantly less time.
The original plans for an office district surrounding the station were developed 10 years ago as part of the city’s masterplan for regeneration.
Sir Peter said: "I believe the council has been too restrictive in trying to direct office development into a particular part of the city in a way that means opportunities could have been missed.
"We have seen too much concentration on that area.
Despite this sentiment, the mayor believes the area surrounding the railway station is still ripe for development at a later date.
He said: "The area around the train station still has enormous prospects, simply because businesses say access to the Midland Mainline is a major attraction."
Nearby St. George’s Blue Tower and the Royal Mail sorting office are thought to have been major obstacles in gaining the desired planning permission for the original redevelopment.
Leicester’s Sowden Group and Loughborough’s William Davis are joint owners of the new plots on Vaughan Way. Both sit at junctions providing comprehensive road access to Great Central Street and Highcross Street.
A recent study carried out by property professionals in the area found that the two new sites, as well as Leicester Science Park near Abbey Lane, should be prioritised as the locations for office developments as returns are likely to come much faster.
Much debate still surrounds the decision, with the mayor arguing that “people who have a stake in some of the land are very positive about the prospects for development", "they are the ones who have to judge what the market forces are in Leicester."
According to local publication This Is Leicestershire, this has done little to assuage the fears of business leaders, with Duncan Green, partner at architecture firm Pick Everard, declaring: “These sites are on the wrong side of the ring road. Access to the station is very important."