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Pop-up ‘mini-Holland’ could be made permanent as part of £1.5m Braunstone Gate improvement scheme

Published on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Braunstone Gate artist's impression

A POP-UP scheme introduced to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists on a busy Leicester shopping street could be made permanent.

Leicester City Council plans to invest up to £1.5million to make permanent a pop-up ‘mini-Holland’ scheme on Braunstone Gate, in the city’s West End. This will help create public space and give more priority to cycles and pedestrians by limiting vehicle access, closing the road to unnecessary traffic and creating wider pavement areas for visitors to the shops, bars and cafes in the area.

Under the plans, access from Duns Lane and New Park Street into Braunstone Gate will be restricted to buses, taxis and cycles only, and the left turn from Western Boulevard into Braunstone Gate will also be closed to traffic, except cycles.

Most on-street parking on Braunstone Gate will also be removed, with the extra space used to make pavements wider. Businesses will be able to apply for street cafe licenses and outside seating areas. Disabled parking bays will be retained.

The measures were originally introduced on an experimental basis in the summer of 2020. Now, the city council is asking local residents and businesses for their comments on plans to make the changes permanent.

Around 200 letters have been delivered to local businesses and people living in the area.

Two drop-in information sessions will also be held for people to find out more about the plans.

These will be held on Monday 17 January 2022 at Ninety-Six Degrees café, 42 Braunstone Gate, from 2pm-4pm and then at Metal Monocle bar, 59-61 Braunstone Gate, from 5pm-7pm.

If given the go-ahead, the permanent scheme would see around £1.5million invested in improvements. The work will be supported through the Transforming Cities Fund, a major £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport, backed by £40million of Government cash from the Department for Transport.

The new, wider footpaths will be constructed in high-quality bock paving and the carriageway resurfaced in red asphalt. New trees will also be planted as part of the scheme.

Work is planned to begin by early-summer and will be carried out in phases to minimise disruption.

As part of its proposals, the council is also considering closing Braunstone Gate, between Bede Street and Western Road, to all traffic on Friday and Saturday nights to create a safer and more appealing area to support the night time economy.

Permanent mini-Holland schemes have been installed in urban areas including the London borough of Walthamstow, leading to a huge increase in cycling and walking, and a 56 per cent drop in vehicle numbers.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “We know these plans present huge opportunities for Braunstone Gate as we’ve had similar measures in place on a temporary basis for over a year as part of our Covid transport recovery plan. By investing in making these improvements permanent, we can help make the area much more attractive and people-friendly.

“We’ve seen the success of mini-Holland schemes elsewhere over the last few years and investing in a similar scheme here will help support local businesses with a more attractive trading environment, while also helping us meet our obligations to cut carbon and improve air quality. We want to help create a place where people feel confident to walk and cycle, but also somewhere that people want to go meet friends, have a meal or a drink and do a bit of shopping.

“It is vital that we continue to provide healthier, greener streets to accommodate future growth of the city and its economy, all of which supports our commitments to address the climate emergency and to reduce air pollution. We need to be radical and ambitious to meet these challenges.”

Deputy city mayor and Westcotes ward councillor Sarah Russell added: “Braunstone Gate is home to a vibrant and popular mix of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops and other independent small businesses. It is also a really busy and important route between De Montfort University and the West End.

“These proposals represent a huge opportunity to get much needed investment into Braunstone Gate, to make it an even more attractive destination not just for the local community but for the whole city.”

The Transforming Cities Fund is a major £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport, backed by £40million of Government cash from the Department for Transport. The ambitious package of works will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, education, shops and other local facilities to help support the city’s growth and deliver on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and health living commitments.

The programme includes the development of new bus priority corridors linking the city centre to local neighbourhoods and suburbs along with the continued development of a network of high-quality cycling and walking routes throughout the city, building on the success of the Connecting Leicester programme.

To view the Braunstone Gate plans in more detail visit www.leicester.gov.uk/TransformingCitiesFund