WORK has started on a scheme to improve the links between the National Space Centre, Abbey Pumping Station and Leicester’s planned space and technology park.
The high-quality scheme has been developed by Leicester City Council to create a new sense of arrival at two of the city’s most popular visitor attractions, and to improve connectivity across the wider Space Park Leicester development site at Ellis Meadows.
It will include the creation of a new, more inviting approach to the Grade II-listed Abbey Pumping Station, with new signage on the museum’s industrial buildings to help give the popular attraction a more clearly defined and welcoming entrance.
The existing statue of The Pioneer, after astronaut Ed White, will be moved from its current location outside the space centre to become the centrepiece of the new public realm scheme.
Granite and porphyry paving will be laid in a spiral shape around the statue, with new seating and landscaping completing the scheme. Improved security measures – including anti-vehicle bollards – will be integrated throughout the scheme.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This investment will help improve the approach to two of Leicester’s most popular attractions, helping to create a sense of arrival and setting the scene for a quality experience for visitors.
“It is also an important part of the wider and ambitious plans for this area, supporting the University of Leicester’s exciting development of Space Park Leicester and helping to bring forward future development across the wider Pioneer Park site.”
Chas Bishop, Chief Executive of the National Space Centre, said, “The design looks very exciting. It was important to us to retain the aspirational focus of The Pioneer and allow visitors to reflect on what it takes to be a scientist, engineer or even an astronaut. We can’t wait to see how it ties the component parts of the wider science park development together.”
The project is part of the Pioneer Park infrastructure project, part-funded by £5milllion from the Local Growth Fund allocated by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors, said: “Space Park Leicester is one of our key investments, with £5m LGF committed. This public realm project is a wonderful way of tying together Leicester’s industrial heritage with our innovative future.
“Space technology will be at the heart of that, as our ambitious plans for Space Park Leicester take shape in the coming years, and provide a major boost to our local economy.”
Construction of the new public realm is expected to cost £260,000 and will take around five months to complete.