Landmark Week for City’s Market Plans

December 3, 2013

European funding of almost £2million has been awarded to Leicester City Council to help progress plans for the redevelopment of the city’s indoor market hall.

The European Regional Development Fund has awarded the city council £1.9million to help pay for the creation of a new public square and the demolition of the existing 1970s indoor market building.

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The award means that the city council can now progress proposals to build an extension to the rear of the Corn Exchange as part of the second phase of the market development scheme.

News of the council’s successful funding bid comes as the first phase of work to create a new food hall reaches a milestone with the arrival of nine enormous wooden beams – with the longest measuring 25 metres.

The specially-engineered ‘glulam’ beams – eight of which measure over 15 metres in length –  will be delivered and erected over two evenings from today (Monday Dec 2).

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Work begins on installing the newly-received beams.

Work to construct the steel structure for the new food hall building was completed this weekend.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is a milestone moment for the redevelopment of Leicester market.

“The award from the European Regional Development Fund is a tremendous boost and means that we can extend and maximise the opportunities presented by this scheme and extend the Corn Exchange building, without spending more than we have in the budget.

“We want Leicester Market to be a must-see attraction for shoppers and visitors. This award means that we can progress our most ambitious plans for this scheme and create something that the whole city can be proud of.

“The new food pavilion will also now begin to take shape rapidly with the arrival of these enormous beams. It’s going to be a dramatic and very exciting couple of days.”

The beams are being shipped from Denmark where they have to be constructed due to the sheer size required. The first load of shorter beams will arrive in Leicester this evening (Dec 2), with the larger beams – including the 25-metre beam – due to arrive on Tuesday (Dec 3) from 7pm. The beams will be transported by lorry and ferry, heading to Leicester via Harwich.

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Image of the development – taken on the morning of 03/12/2013

Once in Leicester, each beam will be lifted from the lorry by crane and transferred individually to the market site by an eight-tonne mini-crawler crane. They will then be lifted into place by a 55 tonne mobile crane. Contractors will work through the night on Monday and Tuesday to minimise disruption.

The last beam is expected to be in place by 4am on Wednesday morning.

Project manager Gavin Colton of construction group Kier said: “This has been an extremely difficult nut to crack.

“It’s taken four months of planning to overcome the technical challenges of getting these huge beams all the way from Denmark into a very confined site at Leicester Market.”

Once complete, the new glass, steel and timber food pavilion will house fish and meat traders.

Work will then begin to demolish the 1970s indoor market building and replace it with an attractive open space paved with porphyry stone.

Mature trees would be planted to soften the area, with new play equipment and seating installed to encourage people to enjoy the space. A special area will be created as a setting for a new statue of Alice Hawkins – the suffragette who made many of her speeches from the steps of the Corn Exchange.

At the rear of the Corn Exchange, a new extension would provide space for a cafe or restaurant.

A terrace on top of the extension – linked to the currently vacant upper floor of the Corn Exchange – would overlook the new market space, offering views of the market conservation area and the activity taking place in the square below.

Since the city council released proposals for the new square and extension, members of the public and key stakeholders have been invited to comment.

Peter Soulsby added: “Feedback has been extremely positive. There was strong support for the scheme from the people who came along to the information sessions we held and all the investors we have spoken to are telling us that the opportunities we are proposing are commercially attractive.

“The award of ERDF cash to help us realise our ambition also clearly recognises the wider economic benefits that the redevelopment of Leicester Market will help achieve.”

A planning application for the extension to the Corn Exchange is due to be submitted before the end of the year. Planning approval for the demolition of the indoor market building has already been granted.

The European Regional Development Fund programme was established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that will support local businesses and create jobs.