An ambitious plan to transform Leicester’s historic railway station and restore its hidden Victorian façade has taken an important step forward.
The multi-million-pound project aims to revitalise and restore the landmark station building, improve facilities for passengers and create a more accessible and attractive gateway into the city.
Contractors have now been appointed to carry out the demolition of 48 London Road which stands immediately next to the railway station.
The work will be carried out by demolition specialists AR Demolition, who will take over the buildings from Monday (12 Feb). Internal works and surveys will be carried out over the coming weeks before work to carefully bring the building down gets underway in late spring.
Demolition of the property will create the space needed to relocate the railway station’s main entrance onto Station Street and create an attractive new open space that will link directly to the Granby Street super crossing and into the city centre.
It will also allow the original Station Street façade of the Grade II-listed station building to be revealed and restored to its Victorian glory.
Rail services to and from Leicester will be unaffected by the demolition works.
Pedestrian access to the railway station will also continue as normal during the demolition works, with the London Road entrance and rear entrance from the station car park both remaining open.
The railway station car park will also be open as normal.
However, traffic restrictions will be in place on Station Street to facilitate the works from Monday 12 February. This will mean that access to Station Street will be limited to essential vehicles only.
The ambitious railway station redevelopment project is led by Leicester City Council in partnership with East Midlands Railway (EMR) and Network Rail. The project is backed by £17.6million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund which aims to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Leicester’s railway station is a landmark historic building but, as an important transport hub, it needs a radical overhaul to meet the needs of a modern city the size of Leicester.
“We have been working closely with our rail industry partners to develop and progress these ambitious plans which will see the station revamped and revitalised. It is a major and complex project that will make a huge difference to the city and it’s encouraging to see that work is now underway.
“The award of almost £18million of extra investment from the Government through the Levelling Up Fund is a tremendous endorsement of the importance of this project. It will help transform the area into a vibrant gateway and make a vital contribution to Leicester’s future growth and prosperity.”
Under the plans, Station Street will be permanently closed to traffic and replaced with an attractive new pedestrianised open space, with trees and landscaping, to create a direct link between the railway station’s new entrance and the city centre.
The new entrance will feature a ramp and steps leading directly to the main concourse and ticket hall. The ticket hall itself will be re-configured and opened up to provide more space for passengers. New skylights will be installed in place of the existing suspended ceiling to let more natural light into the hall.
Taxis will be relocated from inside the existing covered main entrance hall – or porte-cochère – to a new purpose-built looped taxi rank area off Fox Street, close to the new entrance. This will free up the glass-roofed porte-cochere to be revamped as an attractive new plaza for cafes, bars or retail.
A new secure cycle store will also be created close to the new entrance.
Will Rogers, Managing Director for East Midlands Railway, said: “We’re excited to work alongside Leicester City Council and Network Rail to significantly improve the facilities for our customers.
“The investment will see the iconic Leicester railway station restored back to its Victorian glory. The development will transform Leicester railway station, as the gateway to the city, by encouraging integration with the surrounding community and offering an improved customer experience to all station visitors.”
Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Midlands route, said: “This exciting project will transform Leicester station entrance, bringing better facilities and creating a fitting gateway to the city.
“We’ll continue to work closely with Leicester City Council and East Midlands Railway to deliver these ambitious, major improvements for passengers.”
Demolition work is expected to be complete by summer 2024. Construction works will follow shortly after.
It is estimated that Leicester railway station is currently used by around five million passengers each year. This is forecast to increase by around 60 per cent over the next 20 years.