LEICESTER’S new, multi-million-pound, net zero carbon bus station at St Margaret’s is due to open to the public next week.
The city council has confirmed that the new bus station will be back in operation for local bus users from Monday 27 June, with National Express coach services due to return the following week.
It follows 18-months of construction which saw the old 1980s building almost completely demolished and stripped back to its partial steelwork frame, which was reused in line with the high eco-standards of the project. By reusing major elements of the previous building and retaining and repairing the existing concrete on the main area for bus arrivals and departures, the ‘embodied’ carbon cost of constructing the new building has been dramatically reduced by an equivalent of over 575 tonnes.
The new landmark building creates a striking gateway into the centre of the city. It features a glazed concourse to maximise natural lighting and cut energy consumption and a curved aluminium roof where a solar array of 390 photovoltaic panels will generate more clean, green power than is needed to run the building.
The building has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with the highest possible rating of A+ and a score of -4. This means that the new bus station building will be better than net zero carbon in terms of its operational emissions.
Bus passengers will benefit from a completely redesigned, improved and more spacious internal layout with better seating, a new café, modern toilets complete with a Changing Places accessible facility, and real-time digital passenger information. The new building also provides significantly more capacity for national and regional services, with the number of available bays increased by a third from 18 to 24.
Electric bus charging points have been installed and the new building will offer secure storage for up to 100 bicycles, as well being the latest location for a docking station as part of the city’s new e-bike share scheme, Santander Cycles Leicester.
Improvements to footpaths and roads next to the bus station are also complete. These include new and improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, safer crossings, new landscaping and more tree planting. The work will help strengthen and improve links between key development sites and the city centre, including the new Savoy Street which will provide a quick, direct pedestrian route link between St Margaret’s and Haymarket bus stations.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The new St Margaret’s Bus Station represents an ambitious and important step forwards in our efforts to become a carbon neutral city. We believe that this is the first net zero carbon bus station building in the UK.
“It shows our commitment to decarbonising our public buildings and will build on our work to promote sustainable transport and help improve services for bus passengers in and around the city, through our new Leicester Buses Partnership with local operators.
“You can’t help but notice what a positive difference this investment has already made to the area. We’re really looking forward to welcoming people to the new St Margaret’s Bus Station and into this striking new net zero carbon building when it reopens in a few days’ time.”
Visitors will have an opportunity to have a look around the new St Margaret’s Bus Station as part of a formal opening of the building on Sunday 26 June, from 12.30pm. During the open afternoon, Leicester Transport Heritage Trust will be inviting visitors to explore the history of bus travel with a display of vintage vehicles. There will also be a chance to take a trip back in time with a free vintage bus service between the new St Margaret’s Bus Station and Abbey Pumping Station. The event runs until 4pm.
Local bus services which were temporarily relocated from the bus station are then due to return from the morning of Monday 27 June when the new building will be back in operation. Information will be posted at all affected bus stops.
National Express is due to begin operating from its new premises inside St Margaret’s Bus Station from Tuesday 5 July.
Ed Rickard, service delivery director at National Express UK, said: “Leicester is an important hub for National Express customers and we look forward to commencing services from the new St Margaret’s Bus Station. The redeveloped station will provide vastly improved facilities for our passengers’ convenience and comfort, connecting the city with frequent and affordable services to destinations across the UK."
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The new St Margaret’s Bus Station is an important project for Leicester and the completion of this fantastic new building marks the beginning of a revival of this part of the city.
“This new investment is providing a huge boost for public transport. It will also act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this important gateway into Leicester, helping to attract even more investment into the city.
“The award of over £10million of government funding is a tremendous endorsement of the importance of this scheme and I am very grateful to everyone involved in helping to deliver this challenging project to such a tight deadline in difficult circumstances.”
The £14.3million bus station redevelopment is part of the St Margaret’s Gateway regeneration project. This has been supported by a £10.5million allocation from the Getting Building Fund, a pot of government money awarded to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) for shovel-ready infrastructure projects to help create jobs and support economic recovery across the country.
Andy Reed OBE, Interim Chair of the LLEP Board, said: "The Getting Building Fund was designed to develop future infrastructure quickly and the St Margaret's Gateway project has achieved that.
"This new bus station was funded to kickstart short and long-term economic growth and it does so both inclusively and sustainably.
"A tired building has been transformed into a modern, useful, efficient alternative which will serve as a catalyst for further regeneration."
Tom Hewitt, Architect Director at BDP – the leading practice of architects and engineers behind the design of the new building – said: “St Margaret's Bus Station is now one of the most beautiful and important transport hubs in the UK and an exemplar for modern, sustainable design. Modern architecture should be careful, not careless, and transport buildings should respond to the requirements of modern cities like Leicester. Not only have we designed a world-class, inner-city building that is simple and practical but one that meets the council's goal of becoming the most energy efficient bus station building in the country. We are extremely excited by the possibilities that this new building brings to the city and we look forward to seeing it in use.”
The construction of the new building was carried out by the city council’s appointed contractors, leading construction and regeneration specialists Morgan Sindall. The company has previously worked with the city council on the delivery of the award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre.
The installation of the new building’s array of photovoltaic panels was supported by a grant of £95,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of Leicester City Council’s successful bid for over £4million of match-funding to support a range of transport-related projects that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions.