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Office district plan on track?

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Plans to create a major office district near Leicester railway station could be back on track after regeneration bosses secured a multi-million-pound cash boost.

The agency charged with growing the city and county's economy, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), has revealed it has received £108 million from the EU's European Regional Development Fund to spend on business and employment growth.

The funding might be used to relocate the Royal Mail sorting depot, in Campbell Street, freeing up space for the development.

The plans were shelved after £9.2 million of public money earmarked to move the sorting office to a new home in the city fell victim to spending cuts.

Andy Rose, LLEP economic growth and investment manager, said the office district was among a number of potential development sites in the city and county which could benefit from the cash.

"That could be what some of the money is used for," he said. "But we have got other sites in the city and county that could be developed as well. It's funding to kick-start development."

Mr Rose said other projects which could benefit included the redevelopment of the city council's New Walk Centre headquarters and a proposed office site on the corner of Granby Street and Dover Street.

Planned developments in the county which could get cash injections included the Lubbesthorpe housing and business development near Braunstone Town.

Speaking about the possibility of using the cash to kick-start the office district plan, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "I think that's a high priority, but it's not the only priority. I think two other attractive areas for development are the New Walk Centre site and the riverside area from West Bridge to Woodgate."

The LLEP is also set to be allocated up to £50 million each year from 2015 from the Government to support businesses, transport and housing projects.

Sir Peter said he would like to see more funding for development made available by the Government.

"Although it's a large sum, there are a lot of schemes we want to do," he said.

Andrew Bacon, LLEP chairman, said: "This funding is very welcome news for our area.

"We will try to ensure that every public pound that we invest levers in nine pounds of private investment."

The idea of creating an office district adjacent to the railway station has been talked about for more than a decade.

It is hoped the project, which would be led by a private sector developer, would attract hundreds of jobs to the city. However, the presence of the Royal Mail sorting office has been a major stumbling block.

A previous attempt to move it to Charter Street, off Belgrave Gate, was scuppered after public funding was withdrawn.

A Royal Mail spokesman said it was unable to comment on the plans.

Office district plan  on track?


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