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Opponents in plea as £4m Jubilee Square plaza plan for Leicester nears committee stage


Plans for a £4 million public plaza in the historic heart of Leicester are set to be given the go-ahead – despite the concerns of nearby traders who fear it will wreck their businesses.

Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby's Jubilee Square concept is set to be considered by members of Leicester City Council's planning committee next week.

Council officers have considered the scheme to replace a 50-space public car park in St Nicholas Place with an area of paving and lawns.

The park-and-ride stops would also be moved about 60 yards.

The officials are recommending councillors approve the scheme when they discuss it on Wednesday, April 3.

A planning report has revealed the council has had 84 letters of objection to the scheme and five in support.

Opponents are angry at the loss of parking spaces in the area because they say it will harm trade.

They said the pay-and-display car park, which generated nearly £200,000 for the council last year, was essential for customers getting to shops, bars and restaurants.

Sir Peter said the 84 objections did not reflect the wider support he said has been shown for the scheme in consultations.

He said it was vital to help business by investing in good-quality public space to attract people.

He said: "I know from experience that when you make big changes and improvements to the city it is always the case there will be some objection.

"However, from those with a stake in the future of the city, the support has been overwhelming – from the chamber of commerce to The Lanes traders association.

"After 12 months, nobody will want to turn the clock back and go back to how it is now.

"Although the car park income is significant, it is a small proportion of our overall parking income."

Steve Cooper, from Abel Alarms, in Vaughan Way, is a spokesman for a group of about 20 traders formed to fight the scheme.

He said: "It's no surprise council officers say this should happen.

"We are putting our hopes in the councillors who will make final decision. We hope they will show some backbone and represent what we are saying, rather than just go along with their boss – the mayor.

"The parking is the main issue.

"We don't see how it makes sense to remove car parking, especially when the council is looking to build a Richard III visitor centre nearby, which people will want to drive to."

Sir Peter said: "I understand that argument, but we need to make sure visitors can relax in good-quality public space.

"There is ample parking in the area and we are in discussions with NCP about getting provision in its car park nearby."

Conservative opposition councillor Ross Grant said: "The mayor tells us businesses support this but there are clearly a good number that don't. They are telling him this will harm the economy and he does not listen."

Coun Grant said as well as the £4 million spent building the square, there would be an annual cost of maintenance and upkeep to the council which he estimated, together with the loss of parking revenue, could be about £500,000.

A council spokeswoman said £25,000 was spent annually maintaining the car park and a specific yearly budget would be approved if the scheme is given the go-ahead.

Opponents in plea as £4m Jubilee Square plaza plan for Leicester   nears committee stage

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