Saturday, May 21, 2022

Work to begin on £1.5m Braunstone Gate ‘mini-Holland’ improvement scheme

Work to make permanent a pop-up ‘mini-Holland’ scheme in part of Leicester’s West End is due to get underway early next month.

Leicester City Council is planning to invest up to £1.5million on permanent measures to help create more space for pedestrians and cyclists in the busy shopping area of Braunstone Gate.

The work – which is due to begin from Monday 9 May – will help create a more people-friendly place and give more priority to cycles and pedestrians by limiting vehicle access, closing the road to unnecessary traffic at busy times and creating wider pavement areas for visitors to the shops, cafes and bars in the area.

New, wider footpaths will be created and a section of the street will be repaved in high-quality block paving. The carriageway will be resurfaced in red asphalt. New trees will also be planted as part of the scheme.

Access to Braunstone Gate from Duns Lane and New Park Street will be restricted to buses, taxis and cycles only, and the left turn from Western Boulevard will also be closed to traffic, except cycles.

Most on-street parking on Braunstone Gate will be removed, with the extra space used to create wider pavements. Businesses will be able to apply for street café licences and outside seating areas.

Disabled parking bays will be retained and additional pay-and-display parking spaces will now be created on Bede Street and Western Road in response to feedback from local businesses.

Most of the measures were originally introduced on an experimental basis in the summer of 2020. Now, following feedback from local residents and businesses, the city council plans to invest around £1.5million to make permanent improvements.

The work will be supported through the Transforming Cities Fund, a major £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport, backed by £40million of Government cash from the Department for Transport.

Work will be carried out in phases to minimise disruption. On-site traffic marshals will be available to assist with deliveries throughout the works, and access will be maintained for residents.

Braunstone Gate will be temporarily reduced to one lane from early June 2022, and will be restricted to buses, taxis, cycles, and access traffic only from Western Boulevard to Narborough Road in that direction. Well-signed diversions will be in place along Narborough Road North and New Park Street onto Braunstone Gate.

This will be followed by a full road closure from early autumn. Full details will be publicised nearer the time.

Work is expected to be complete in spring 2023.

Permanent mini-Holland schemes have been installed in other urban areas including the London borough of Walthamstow, leading to a huge increase in cycling and walking, and a 56 per cent drop in vehicle numbers.

Deputy city mayor and Westcotes ward councillor Sarah Russell said: “Braunstone Gate is home to a vibrant and popular mix of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops and other independent small businesses. It is also a really busy and important route between De Montfort University and the West End.

“This much needed investment represents a huge opportunity for the area. It will help to make it an even more attractive destination, not just for the local community but for the whole city.”

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, added: “We know these plans present huge opportunities for Braunstone Gate as we’ve had similar measures in place on a temporary basis for almost two years as part of our Covid transport recovery plan. By investing in making these improvements permanent, we can help make the area much more attractive and people-friendly.

“We’ve seen the success of mini-Holland schemes elsewhere over the last few years and investing in a similar scheme here will help support local businesses with a more attractive trading environment, while also helping us meet our obligations to cut carbon and improve air quality. We want to help create a place where people feel confident to walk and cycle, but also somewhere that people want to go meet friends, have a meal or a drink and do a bit of shopping.

“It is vital that we continue to provide healthier, greener streets to accommodate future growth of the city and its economy, all of which supports our commitments to address the climate emergency and to reduce air pollution. We need to be radical and ambitious to meet these challenges.”

The Transforming Cities Fund is a major £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport, backed by £40million of Government cash from the Department for Transport. The ambitious package of works will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, education, shops and other local facilities to help support the city’s growth and deliver on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and health living commitments.

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