PLANS for major investment to improve walking and cycling facilities on a route from New Lubbesthorpe, through Aylestone, to Leicester city centre have been announced.
The local councils plan to jointly invest around £1.2million in a range of improvements to create a safer and more attractive route for pedestrians and cyclists linking New Lubbesthorpe, in Thorpe Astley, and nearby Meridian Leisure Park, in Blaby, with Leicester city centre.
The proposed scheme will involve widening and improving footpaths, between Murby Way and Foxon Way, in Blaby, and creating safer crossings at key junctions to provide a direct link to existing cycling provision on Meridian Way.
The footpath across Mossdale Meadows will be widened to provide more space for walkers and cyclists. A new direct link onto the meadows from Meridian Leisure Park will also be created, as part of a project coordinated by its owners Savills.
A range of improvements will be made along the Kingsway to provide a direct link to Aylestone Meadows, where the steps leading onto the park will be replaced with a ramp. A new path will provide a direct link to an existing footway and cycle track, which will also be improved.
Cyclists and pedestrians will then be able to use the existing pop-route cycle route on Braunstone Lane East, which the city council is proposing to make permanent. This provides a safe and direct link to the Great Central Way, which has seen major investment in recent years to widen and improve the route.
Pop-up cycle lanes on Western Boulevard and Mill Lane will be made permanent, providing a link to De Montfort University campus, the city centre and Braunstone Gate where work is currently underway on a major ‘mini-Holland’ revamp.
The new works will be delivered by Leicester City Council as part of its Transforming Cities Fund programme, working in partnership with Leicestershire County Council, Blaby District Council and Braunstone Town Council.
The scheme will be backed by over £500,000 of funding from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) through the Leicester and Leicestershire Business Rates Pool fund.
Leicester City Council has also been successful in securing an additional £450,000 of Department for Transport cash through Sustrans Paths for Everyone programme to help improve the National Cycle Network.
Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transport, said: “For the city to grow sustainably, it is essential that we provide the infrastructure to help people make the shift to more sustainable and active forms of transport for their shorter journeys. By making routes safer for pedestrians and cyclists, we are enabling more people to leave the car at home and choose cleaner, greener and cheaper ways of getting about.
“I am really pleased that we are able to work with our partners in the county to provide this valuable new route for cyclists and pedestrians within the city boundary and the wider urban area.”
Cllr Ozzy O’Shea, county council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this scheme which opens up a new walking and cycling route to link the city and the county.
“Developing walking and cycling routes is crucial and it builds on the work we’re doing to establish local cycling and waking infrastructure plans in parts of the county. It also helps us as we look to work with Leicestershire people and organisations to become a net zero county by 2045 or before. We’ve been consulting on our strategy and action plan around this.”
Neil McGhee, LLEP Board Member and Low Carbon Champion, said: "Our aim was to fund priority economic projects that drive productivity and growth across our region and Blaby Walk and Ride does just that.
"By allocating £500,000, the LLEP has been able to help make better use of cycleways and footpaths linking the city centre with other key employment sites including Fosse Park, Blaby town centre and Everards Meadows.
"Doing so encourages the shift towards sustainable transport while also supporting inclusivity and sustainability by reducing congestion, improving air quality and promoting a healthy workforce."
Blaby District Councillor Sharon Coe, Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing, Community Engagement and Business Support, said: “This is an exciting partnership project that will bring brand new walking and cycling links in our district.
“The work will see sustainable transport links to one of the most popular attractions in Blaby District and improve the links we have to the city and Aylestone Meadows. Creating more active environments is crucial to reducing emissions, tackling obesity levels and improving people’s wellbeing.
“We’re delighted to be working with the city council, county council, Braunstone Town Council, Meridian Leisure Park and the LLEP to bring these improvements to residents, and we look forward to the work getting underway.”
Cllr Amanda Hack, Deputy Leader of Braunstone Town Council said: “This is a great opportunity for our parish. As well as opening up a new cycling and walking route connecting Braunstone Town and Thorpe Astley, it will also allow improved access to Meridian Leisure Park and Aylestone Meadows.
"These safer routes for cyclists and pedestrians will be welcomed by local residents and especially families, who want to get out without having to get in the car. As a Town Council committed to Net Zero, we know that improvements to local cycling and walking infrastructure enables residents to make positive changes to reduce their own carbon footprint as well as improving their health and wellbeing.“
Ed Healey, Sustrans Network Development Manager, Midlands and East, said: “We're working closely with partners to deliver a range of improvements as part of our Paths for Everyone programme. It’s helping to bring us one step closer to a National Cycle Network that is safer and more accessible for everyone. Supported by the Department for Transport, our England-wide programme is contributing to the creation of a UK-wide network of traffic-free paths, connecting cities, towns and countryside, loved by the communities they serve.”
Letters outlining the proposed scheme are being delivered to nearby residents and businesses.
Work is due to begin in August 2022, and is expected to take around nine months to complete.
To find out more visit www.leicester.gov.uk/transformingcitiesfund