Designs Revealed for Second Phase of Market Scheme

September 11, 2013

Proposals for a scheme that will replace Leicester’s 1970s indoor market hall have been published by the city council today (Wednesday 11 September).

The designs show an attractive open space, offering uninterrupted views of the heritage buildings that surround the market, and an extension to the rear of the Corn Exchange that could provide a stylish new space for a bar or restaurant.

Quality stone paving in porphyry – the same material that’s been used in the recent refurbishment of Applegate and that will feature in other Connecting Leicester projects – would help unify the space around the new square, with just the one material being used across the whole area.

Contrasting inlays, textures and paving sizes would be used to help define the road, loading bays and pedestrian zones – and the full width of the square would be level to make access easy for wheelchair users or those with pushchairs.

Mature trees would be planted to soften the hard landscaping, play equipment and seating would be installed to encourage people to enjoy the space, and a ‘square within a square’ would be created as a fitting setting for a new statue of Alice Hawkins – the suffragette who made many of her speeches from the steps of the Corn Exchange.

A terrace on the top of the proposed extension – linked to the currently vacant upper floor of the Corn Exchange – would overlook the square, offering diners views of the attractive buildings within the conservation area and the activity taking place in the square below.

“We asked our architects to come up with a masterplan for the market that would increase footfall through the site by creating a new food hall, a new public space and new improved links to the rest of the city centre’s main shopping areas,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

“Work on the new food hall is already under way – and we’re now turning our attention to the second phase of the project.

“These designs show a spectacular transformation of a key site that’s in the heart of a conservation area and just yards from Leicester’s High Street.

“We all know that Leicester Market is one of the city’s treasures, but these proposals will help it realise its huge potential.

“This scheme will ensure that the market continues to attract visitors and shoppers in the daytime – but I also believe that additional investment from the private sector will help the square become a major new destination for an evening drink or a meal.”

Development-2

The proposed design of the second phase of development at Leicester Market

The City Mayor announced his plans to invest £7 million in Leicester’s historic market late last year, but delivering the extension to the Corn Exchange was not included in those original proposals.

Now the city council has submitted an application for European funding to cover the additional costs of the new build, the required alterations to the upper floors of the Corn Exchange and the necessary road improvements – a total of £2.1 million – recognising the advantages of completing the works as part of the overall scheme.

“To make the most of the opportunities presented by this new public space, we’re keen to create new activity at the rear of the Corn Exchange,” said Peter Soulsby.

“By building a sympathetic extension that could provide space for an attractive café or restaurant at the same time as the open space is being developed, we can coordinate the works and ensure that the whole scheme is completed within our time frame, without the builders having to come back when the new square is finished.

“What we are doing now is some soft market-testing to confirm that there are operators out there who would be keen to take on this new building – and provide the quality catering that will be required to meet the needs of the increasing number of visitors to the market area.”

Greig & Stephenson, the architects working with the city council, have come up with a contemporary design for the new build that complements the 19th Century Corn Exchange, without competing with it. The classically proportioned building would be finished in white to match the Corn Exchange, providing an attractive contrast with the varied colours of the porphyry stone paving around it.

The designs for the scheme will now go out to public consultation, with a number of events lined up to give people the opportunity to comment.

Members of the project team will present the new scheme to the Older Persons’ Forum today (Wednesday 11 September) and the Conservation Advisory Panel on 25 September. The plans will also be on display in the Market Square at the following dates and times:
 
Wednesday 18 September from 12noon – 1.30pm; Thursday 26 September from 1.30pm – 2.00pm; Monday 30 September from 12noon – 1.30pm; Wednesday 9 October from 12noon – 1.30pm.

The proposals can also be viewed online at www.leicester.gov.uk/connectingleicester, where comments can also be made.

All comments must be received by the end of the day on Wednesday 9 October.
 
Feedback from the consultation will be considered by the City Mayor, before the scheme is worked up in more detail ahead of the submission of a planning application at the end of October.

While phase two of the market redevelopment is still in its early stages, work to create a new food hall next to the Corn Exchange is well under way.

Planning permission has also been granted to create much-needed new public toilets in the building formerly used as the Energy Advice Centre on Market Place South.

Although permission to demolish the indoor market hall was granted in April 2013, the building won’t be demolished until the new food hall is up and running in 2014.