AN AMBITIOUS vision for the multi-million pound regeneration of Leicester’s Waterside is set to be taken forward by the city council.
The Leicester Waterside Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which will help guide development and investment in the 60-hectare area around the River Soar and Soar Island over the next ten to 15 years, is due to be formally adopted.
The adoption of the new guidance will mean that Leicester City Council can submit an outline planning application which, if approved, will pave the way for a first £9.5milllion phase of regeneration in the area.
This will focus on land to the west of the A50, between the Grand Union Canal and Friars Mill, and including Soar Island.
Funding available for the first phase includes £7.5milllion of Government cash from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) Local Growth Fund, and £2milllion of council capital set aside for the Leicester Economic Action Plan.
This will enable the city council to acquire land and property in the area and prepare sites for development.
The city council is also proposing two new office buildings – providing around 1,000sqm of accommodation – at Friars Mill. The disused 18th century mill complex on the banks of the River Soar is undergoing a £6.3milllion redevelopment to bring it back into use as a base for growing local businesses.
The council plans to construct the new office buildings to support regeneration in the area and the intention would be to sell or lease them – on commercial terms – on their completion. Subject to planning permission, work on the scheme could get underway in the autumn.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This marks an important next step in kick-starting the much-needed regeneration of Waterside.
“The area has suffered badly in recent decades, with the closure of key industries leaving many sites derelict, unused and ugly.
“The adoption of this new planning guidance, and the award of cash from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, will allow us to bring key development land into public ownership and set out the type of development we want to see in these areas.
“This will remove a great deal of risk for potential investors. It will also help us to find development partners that share our vision for Waterside as a thriving neighbourhood with great places to live and space for businesses to flourish.
“It’s our role to provide a catalyst for transformation of the area. The restoration of Friars Mill will stand as a beacon for regeneration in this area.
“Waterside has the potential to be the most exciting development opportunity in the East Midlands and is a major opportunity for the city’s growth.”
Once adopted as local planning policy, the Waterside SPD will help the city council encourage new development and attract further investment into the area and support bringing unused buildings or land back into use.
It will also set new guidelines for development in the area. This includes setting limits on the height of new buildings and types of new development, protecting the area’s heritage, green space and bio-diversity, improving the routes between the city centre and the riverside, and ensuring high standards of design in all new building.
A draft of the Waterside SPD was launched for public consultation earlier this year, giving members of the public, businesses and other stakeholders in the area a chance to comment on the proposals.
In total, around £20milllion of Government cash from the LLEP Local Growth Fund has been earmarked to kick-start the regeneration of Waterside.
A formal decision on the adoption of the Waterside SPD, the release of funding and the submission of related planning applications, is due to be made on Monday 10 August.
A cantata by Benjamin Vaughan and Philip Goss – The King In The Car Park – was performed today by the massed choirs of schools from the city and the county.
The choirs were accompanied by an instrumental ensemble including a piano, double bass, clarinet, flute, the organ and a variety of medieval instruments from the time of the Plantagenets.
The hour-long cantata was in nine movements and employed a variety of musical styles such as jazz, musical theatre and folk. It told the story of the life and death of Richard III to his death at the Battle of Bosworth and his ‘home coming’ when his remains were reinterred in the Cathedral.
Despite the score posing many technical challenges, the children of the choirs delivered a magnificent performance.
The hottest day of the year, thus far, did not deter a large number of people from filing the cathedral. he work was performed again the follow day in Loughborough.
A look at our sizable in-tray of press releases and announcements.
22nd January 2016
Moon Song at Curve
Leicester’s Curve theatre have partnered with Remploy to fund three performances of Bamboozle Theatre Company’s Moon Song, to be performed in its Studio at no cost to the audience on Mon 1 Feb. The intention behind these free performances is to offer assistance to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who are making the often difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.
Moon Song is an enchanting, space themed Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) production telling the story of Megan, who falls asleep and dreams of travelling to the moon. This production is carefully designed to accommodate the wide range of abilities within the autistic spectrum, through Bamboozle’s trademark interactive style.
The performances are part of a series of activities hosted at Curve and leading up to the Local Offer Live event which takes place at Curve on Wed 3 Feb.
Curve’s Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, said:
“Following the success of our recent Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances of Oliver! our commitment to making theatre accessible to all is stronger than ever. We are thrilled to be working with Remploy to stage these performances of Bamboozle’s Moon Song for young people with SEND. It’s really important to us that Curve is renowned as a theatre where everyone can engage with the arts, and we look forward to welcoming special needs schools and SEND practitioners from across Leicester to these performances.
Organisers of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival are launching their search for the best Silver Stand Up Comedians. The Silver Stand Up Competition, organised in partnership with Silver Comedy and supported by Jasper Carrot, Arthur Smith and Sir Bruce Forsyth, will take place on Thursday 18th February as part of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. Comedians aged over 55 are encouraged to enter for the chance to win the 2016 title. The deadline for the competition is Friday 8th January 2016 and further details are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival set up the competition in 2012 to provide a showcase for older comedians. The first competition was won by Shelley Bridgman who continues to gig regularly across the UK and has helped launch the BBC search for the best script that promotes a positive portrayal of transgender characters. The 2013 winner was Marc Lucero, who regularly gigs across London and has appeared on BBC Breakfast News. On winning the competition, Marc said “I want to change the perceptions people have of the elderly and by winning this award I have proved that humour transcends age. Now we need to convince audiences that silver comedy is just as edgy and exciting as seeing the young bucks. Winning the Silver Silver Stand Up Award also proves it is never too late to start a new career.” The 2014 competition was won by comedian Peter Callaghan, who recently returned from performing as part of Old Folks Telling Jokes at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in 2015 the competition was won by Ed de Cantor. Ed had given up performing stand up aged 40, thinking he was “too old”. On winning the competition in 2015, he said “I am completely over the moon. Winning this competition is a dream come true.”
17th September 2015
Proposals set to transform Leicester’s Market
LEICESTER’s outdoor market could be set for a stunning transformation if new proposals are given the go-ahead.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby is considering major investment in the 800 year-old market, to ensure it is fit for the future and to complement the ongoing redevelopment work in the area.
The improvements would follow the construction of a new public square on the site of the old indoor market, and the repaving of the roads surrounding it, but would take priority over an extension to the Corn Exchange building.
Initial proposals for the outdoor market are to give it a fresh new look, with improved stalls, better lighting and new signage.
The revamp could include changes to the roof to make it more transparent, and the installation of LED lighting, which would save energy and reduce costs.
Shoppers and traders will be consulted on the proposals as part of the detailed design process, and it’s expected that final designs will go to the City Mayor for approval early next year.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It’s clear that the work we’ve already done at the market has made a huge difference, with the new food hall providing customers with the attractive shopping environment they want.
“The creation of a new public square and improvements to the roads and pavements around the market will really transform the area, but they will also highlight the poor quality of the outdoor market.
“I am therefore proposing that improvements to the market should take precedence over the Corn Exchange extension, which is something we could look at again in the future when we have seen how the new public square is being used.
“The market has been a significant feature of the city for hundreds of years, and we need to ensure it retains that position for many more years to come.”
Consultation on the proposals for the outdoor market will begin in the next few weeks.
Project manager Mike Dalzell said: “We have a lot of preparation work to do to move utilities and carry out necessary changes to the highways, but our aim is for construction of the new square to begin in the new year and finish by autumn 2016.”
The first phase of the market redevelopment was completed in May 2014, with the opening of the bright and airy new food hall.
The food hall has already won several awards, including Best Food Market from the National Markets Association (NABMA) and Best New Building from the Leicester Civic Society.
[Source: Leicester City Council]
28th August 2015
Everybody’s Reading- September 26th – October 4th
This annual festival is packed with over 140 events in 60 venues over nine days. Libraries around Leicester will be taking part, hosting numerous events – these include: local author Bali Rai will be at New Parks Library to talk about his passion for football and books; listen to scary stories and get creative with book illustration workshops at Fosse Library; at Beaumont Leys Library we have Toddler Tales with stories for younger library visitors all about Autumn Animals, and at Evington Library we have Under The Sea where fishy tales will come to life. Watching the Detectives and John Martin (Leicester’s ‘Mr Crime’) are two of the events at Central and Hamilton Libraries for crime readers out there.
Booster Cushion Theatre for Children will also be at Fosse, Westcotes, Pork Pie and Brite Centre libraries with their show for young children and parents – Big Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
This year also sees the welcome return of BLAM!, our promotion of all things comic-related. The event at Central Library on Wednesday 30th September is a slight change to the one advertised in the brochure in that we are excited to be hosting a talk by comic-writer, Jamie Delano.
Jamie has written for 2000AD and DC Comics, as well as titles such as Dr Who, Captain Britain and Hellblazer. If you have an interest in comics, either as a reader or a writer then this event is for you.
Leicester’s writer and director Kenton Hall is behind a new film. As the website asks:
Are you 12 years old? Have you ever been 12 years old? Are you planning to be 12 years old at some point in the future? If so, then this is the film for you. “A Dozen Summers” is a comedy about what it’s really like to grow up in the 21st century. Get ready to enter the world of Maisie and Daisy McCormack, twin sisters who have just hijacked a children’s film in order to tell their own story. Or possibly one about a ghost girl who eats teachers. They haven’t decided yet.
PLANS for a major programme of work to improve access to Leicester’s riverside have been announced.
Leicester City Council has teamed up with the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust to help enhance the river corridor through the city, as part of a wider programme of work to reduce flood risk.
The programme of improvements has been awarded up to £1.5million from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) Local Growth Fund, with £850,000 of this earmarked for a first phase of projects along the River Soar and Grand Union Canal due to begin over the next year.
The improvements are being match-funded by the Environment Agency, which has been awarded £33milllion of Government funding for a five-year programme of flood risk management in the city.
The Canal & River Trust has also allocated £500,000 towards the project, which will fund important maintenance, including ongoing dredging works, to help ensure the waterways are accessible, attractive and welcoming.
A new cycle link along the river between Loughborough Road and Thurcaston Road will be created, and plans are being drawn up to improve and extend the cycleway between the river and the Great Central Railway.
The Environment Agency will also undertake a five-year, £6million programme of flood relief in the Abbey Meadows area from next year. This will include culverts under Thurcaston Road and Loughborough Road, new cycle links, creation of new wetland and woodland areas, and other environmental improvements.
The Canal and River Trust will improve the existing towpath along the Grand Union Canal from the city centre to Watermead Park.
The programme also includes creating better access to the riverside at Sock Island, environmental improvements around Willow Brook, restoration of the old, redundant mill race at Frog Island, and new boat mooring alongside Friars Mill.
Festival of Archaeology
Jewry Wall Museum will be hosting a series of special events as part of the city’s two-week Festival of Archaeology.
The museum will be helping to celebrate the city’s rich archaeological heritage with guided walks, talks, displays and family-friendly activities.
The 2015 Festival of Archaeology runs from 11-26 July, but kicks off with a preview event at the University of Leicester on Saturday (4 July). Staff from the city council’s museums service and volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum will be on hand at the event, offering activities including coin striking and marching drills with a Roman soldier.
On Sunday 12 July, visitors to Jewry Wall Museum can join in with a free ‘Romans and Barbarians’ day. It will include the chance to watch a Roman army on parade, see demonstrations of Roman arms and armour and strike your very own Roman coin.
There will also be craft activities, family games and an exciting finale to the event when a Barbarian warrior queen arrives on her war chariot to defy the might of Rome.
Daily from 12-26 July, the museum will run tours of Leicester’s Roman bath house, with replica objects to handle. Tours take place from 12-12.50pm each day.
On 18 July, at 2pm, there will be an illustrated talk and book-signing from Gareth Williams, curator at the British Museum, on the topic of Viking warfare in the light of new discoveries. Tickets are £5 and can be booked on 0116 225 4971.
And as a finale to the festival, the museum will host a Viking warfare day on Sunday 26 July. A full Viking encampment will be set up amidst the Roman ruins of Leicester, just as it might have looked in the 9th century, when these lands fell under Viking rule. Admission is £2 for adults, £1 for children.
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, heritage, leisure and sport, said: “I’m really pleased that our staff are able to work so closely with the dedicated volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum to put on so many great events for the Festival of Archaeology.
“These family-friendly events mean everyone can get involved in celebrating Leicester’s rich archaeological heritage.”
improve pedestrian and cycling routes around Leicester’s St Nicholas Circle will enter its final phase next week.
The ambitious £1.7milllion scheme has already seen improvements completed on the south side of the busy junction. Wider pavements and a new cycleway have been constructed from Peacock Lane to St Augustine Road, where a lane of traffic has been removed.
A new cycle lane has also been created on the Southgates northbound slip road, and work to create a new entrance into the award-winning Castle Gardens is almost complete.
The project will now move on to the Jewry Wall side of St Nicholas Circle from Monday (6 July).
Existing footpaths will be widened and re-laid with high-quality block paving to create a joint-use footpath and cycleway. The number of traffic lanes will be unchanged on this side of the roundabout.
This stage of the project will also see the Harvey Walk footbridge, which spans the roundabout passing between the NCP car park and Holiday Inn, taken down. Work to create a new surface-level footpath in its place will take place next year.
The scheme is part of the Connecting Leicester programme and will create more attractive routes from the city centre to attractions like Castle Gardens, the Roman Jewry Wall and St Mary de Castro Church, which all lie outside the 1960s ring road.
Reading for everyone
The programme for Everybody’s Reading festival is very, very close to being finalised. With a multitude of events taking place all over the city, there is definitely going to be something for everyone to enjoy. There are plenty of free events taking place in libraries, cafes, community centres and many more.
Highlights of this year’s festival include an exclusive schools only performance from Countryfile and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton at one lucky school in Leicester, as well as children’s book-themed days at Gorse Hill City Farm, smelly perfume poetry workshop from the people who brought Lush to the High Street, crime writers, story tellers, poets and so many more workshops, exhibitions and readings. There will be loads of opportunity to get involved with something to do with reading!
Everybody’s Reading 2015 runs from Saturday 26th September until Sunday 4th October 2015. Everybody’s Reading is a nine day festival taking place in over 80 venues across Leicester City including community centres, schools, cafes, bars, arts venues, libraries and museums.
The festival, now in its fifth year, is organised by the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) and is an off-shoot of the ‘Whatever it Takes’ initiative (see separate bullet point for more information on this initiative). The aim of the festival is to get Leicester reading by encouraging people to hear and attend spoken word, poets, authors and community writers.
A CENTURIES-old local tradition as kept alive when the Lord Mayor of Leicester attended the Damask Rose ceremony on 24th June.
The Lord Mayor, Cllr Ted Cassidy, marked the annual custom when he received the symbolic peppercorn rent of a Damask Rose and four old pennies from the landlord of O’Neill’s, a pub in in Loseby Lane.
The Lord Mayor said: “This is a local custom that dates back hundreds of years and I am delighted that we are continuing and protecting the tradition.”
Steve Thorn, landlord of O’Neill’s Leicester, said: “We here at O’Neill’s are happy to keep up this long-standing tradition and hope we can build on it in the future.”
Dating back to the 1600s, the Damask Rose ceremony survived until 2001 when the O’Neill’s chain took over the pub. The former Lord Mayor, Colin Hall, was instrumental in re-instating the ceremony in 2010.
In keeping with tradition, the Damask Rose ceremony takes place to coincide with the Feast of St John the Baptist and representatives from the Gild of Freemen of the City of Leicester will also be present.
Magna Carter celebrated
THE 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta was marked in Leicester with a packed programme of events. From Saturday, 13th June, people were able to find out how the medieval charter helped lay the foundations for the democracy we know today – and could learn how a baron with links to Leicester helped ensure the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215.
A an exhibition at the Guildhall – featuring a reproduction of the British Library’s copy of the Magna Carta – revealed the origins and impact of the charter, while an event at Leicester Market, on Saturday 13 June, included medieval butter-making, traditional sweet-making and an appearance by the medieval rat-catcher.
The medieval Guildhall – Leicester’s first town hall – hosted a Magna Carta day on Sunday, 14th June, when the Lord Mayor of Leicester talked to visitors about his role and local democracy, after musical performances from comedian Anthony King.
On Monday 15th June there was an opportunity to meet Baron Saer de Quincy – the rebel Leicester baron who helped ensure that King John accepted the terms of the Magna Carta. Baron de Quincy was joined by musicians from the Medieval Music Wagon at the special event at Leicester Market on Monday – the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.
The event also celebrated the standardisation of weights and measures – enshrined in the Magna Carta – with a selection of old Leicester weights, measures and scales on display in the window of the market’s customer service centre.
“The Magna Carta enshrines many of the things we take for granted today, particularly the rule of law and the principle that nobody can act above the law,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.