Thursday, December 7, 2023

Council plans to transform outdated junction get funding boost

Plans to transform Leicester’s St Margaret’s junction to help encourage more walking and cycling, and improve bus journey times, have been given a major cash boost.

Leicester City Council has been awarded over £12 million from the third round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which is designed for long-term, major capital projects which will help create jobs, encourage new investment and enable business growth.

The proposed highway development project would transform the sprawling junction linking St Margaret’s Way, Burleys Way, Vaughan Way and Church Gate. It will also see the permanent removal of the last remaining pedestrian underpasses on the city’s inner ring road. The large underpass complex was closed and fenced off earlier this year, following surveys that showed many people choose not to use them due to safety concerns and the fear of crime.

Proposed improvements include filling-in all three underpasses and major remodelling of the junction to help improve bus journey times, provide a more attractive route for walkers and cyclists and create more green space at this important gateway into the city centre. Ensuring the area feels safe for people to use after dark is another key aim of the project.

The introduction of new bus lanes on sections of St Margaret’s Way and Sanvey Gate will help improve journey times and service reliability by creating a direct link between the new St Margaret’s Bus Station and the A6, A50 and Anstey Lane bus corridors.

New cycle tracks would also be created on parts of St Margaret’s Way and Sanvey Gate to link to recently created and planned works expanding the citywide network of safer routes for cyclists.

Footpaths would be widened and improved, and new parallel crossings for pedestrians and cyclists will be introduced across the busy junction.

New landscaping would also help create a stronger link between the city centre and the medieval St Margaret’s Church building, which dates back to the 13th century.

The proposed improvements are intended to encourage more walking and cycling, with transport surveys showing that currently just three per cent of people using the junction do so on foot or bike.

The scheme will also help to promote new development and regeneration in the area, including providing the infrastructure needed to support investment in new city centre homes to help meet rising demand.

Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for climate, culture and economy, said: “This is great news for the city and a fantastic opportunity to build on the improvements we have already seen from the award-winning redevelopment of St Margaret’s bus station – the first operationally net zero bus station building in the UK.

“The nearby St Margaret’s junction is an outdated throwback to the original 1970s ring road design. Its underpasses are unappealing to pedestrians and are a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

“As it stands the junction is a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists, and the current arrangement does no favours for buses leaving the new St Margaret’s Station.

“These proposals will address an important missing link in our transport network and help this sprawling junction into an attractive gateway into the city centre for all road users. It will also help reveal one of Leicester’s finest historic church buildings and reconnect it and the surrounding area to the city centre. Importantly, it will also make the route feel safer for people to use, especially at night.

“The award of over £12 million from Levelling Up Fund is a huge endorsement of the importance of this scheme.

“Providing more attractive and sustainable travel choices for people will help deliver a greener solution for the future growth of the city and support our work around the climate emergency and air quality improvements. We need to be radical and ambitious to meet these challenges.”

Alongside the award of £12,177,706 from the Levelling Up Fund, the city council will invest £3 million of capital funding towards the project.

Work is expected to get underway in 2025.

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