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£33m funding announced for city transport schemes

Published on Thursday, March 12, 2020

3 minute read

Bus and cyclist on Welford Road

AMBITIOUS plans for public transport, cycling and walking improvements across Leicester have been given a £33million boost thanks to a successful bid to the Government’s Transforming City Fund.

The Government grant will help fund an overall package of works expected to be around £65m once match funding from the city council and other partners is included. It will fund a series of projects to  improve the journey times and reliability of the city’s bus services, and extend the council’s Connecting Leicester cycling and walking routes into city neighbourhoods.

The programme of work will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, supporting the city’s growth and delivering on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments.

Schemes include creating Green Growth Bus Priority Corridors linking to city neighbourhoods and suburbs, and continuing to develop a network of high-quality cycling and walking routes throughout the city.

The £33million grant includes £8million for sustainable transport improvements between St Margaret’s Bus Station and the Park and Ride hub at Birstall, including creating new bus lanes and cycle infrastructure.

The programme has been developed with Leicestershire County Council, universities and local businesses. Bus operators have been central to the bid and have committed substantial funds to schemes.

The announcement builds on over £100m investment the city council has made through its ongoing Connecting Leicester programme to support cycling, walking and bus travel.

It follows on from the city council’s successful bid which secured nearly £8million in 2019 from the Department for Transport in its first round of Transforming City Funds funding.

This has resulted in the new cycleways linking the city centre to the two universities and the Clarendon Park area, as well as new routes on the inner ring road, Belgrave Gate and Abbey Park Road. A bike hire scheme is due to start this summer with support from Santander, and a fleet of electric buses is being purchased for the Park and Ride service between Birstall and the city centre.

Yesterday’s announcement means the combined Government and local match funding for TCF phase 1 and 2 totals around £75million.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Today’s announcement will allow us to move ahead with our ambitious sustainable transport schemes for cyclists, pedestrians and bus passengers. We are committed to delivering a greener solution to the future growth of our city and its economy, including better links into our existing city neighbourhoods.

“While I am disappointed that we didn’t receive the funding we had hoped for to improve the railway station this time around, we will continue to work closely with train operators to support their plans to upgrade the station.

“Our rail links to St Pancras International makes that a very attractive proposition for development.

“The programme will also build on the transformational work we have delivered through our Connecting Leicester programme, and provides a strong platform for continuing investment in future public transport provision through a Workplace Parking Levy.”

Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, said: “The DfT funding announcement, and funding from partners, represents a big step forward for the city to provide attractive, sustainable travel choices for people, while supporting our climate emergency and air quality challenges and encouraging healthier lifestyles through walking and cycling.

“We look forward to delivering the proposed public transport schemes developed through our quality partnership work with bus operators. We are also very grateful for all the hard work done in putting together this funding bid.”

Blake Pain, acting deputy leader for Leicestershire County Council, added: “We’re delighted by the news of the announcement and now the work can really start. We’re working very closely with the city council to develop cross-boundary schemes which promote walking, cycling and public transport use as well as contributing to a cleaner environment.”

Other schemes due to receive Government funding include £20million for the East Midlands Rail Hub, to upgrade and improve connections between towns and cities across the Midlands including Leicester and Birmingham, £500million on major strategic road schemes between 2020-25, including improvements to the M1 to better link Leicester and Nottingham, and £56million additional funding for local road maintenance and fixing potholes.