THREE city centre streets, at the heart of Leicester’s historic Old Town, are set for a revamp with work beginning on Grey Friars next week.
Leicester City Council will carry out work to improve the look and feel of St Martins, Hotel Street and Grey Friars as part of its extension of the city centre pedestrian zones.
All three streets were originally made traffic-free on a temporary basis in summer 2020, as part of a range of measures to help cafes, restaurants and other businesses in the area bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The changes have helped to create new outdoor seating areas and more space for shoppers in the historic streets close to St Martins Square and Leicester Market.
Since then, the changes have proven popular with visitors and businesses and, following consultation, the city council successfully secured legal permissions to make the temporary measures permanent in August 2022.
Now, the city council is set to invest over £1million in a range of improvements to the area, to bring the popular streets up to the same standard as nearby Peacock Lane and neighbouring streets in the Old Town area, linking to Leicester Cathedral and the King Richard III Visitor Centre.
Work will begin on Grey Friars on Monday (9 Oct), where footpaths will be widened and the main carriageway raised to improve access and safety for people who are walking, wheeling or cycling. Grey Friars will be closed to all traffic during the works, which are expected to take around nine weeks to complete. Well signed diversions will be in place. Access to shops, business and homes will be maintained.
Work will pause for the busy Christmas period, before improvements begin on St Martins and Hotel Street early in the new year. This will see the main carriageway of St Martins resurfaced in high-quality porphyry stone to match streets in the Cathedral precinct. Hotel Street will be improved with a raised carriageway to improve pedestrian access and connections to Leicester Market.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on climate, economy and culture, said: “St Martins and the nearby Lanes are home to a great many brilliant independent businesses. It is vital that we continue to support local businesses like these by investing in high quality, people-friendly streets and spaces. These historic streets, at the heart of the city’s Old Town, close to the market, cathedral and Richard III Visitor Centre are also an important and popular destination for visitors to the city.
“By investing in these improvements, we will create a much safer and more attractive environment and encourage more people to walk, wheel or cycle to, in and around the city centre. We know that creating healthy streets like this can increase retail spend by as much as 30%*, as well as provide cleaner air that’s good for people's health and good for the planet.”
Since September 2022, St Martins has been permanently closed to motor vehicles.
The existing temporary extension of the city centre pedestrian zone to include the whole of Grey Friars was incorporated into the city centre pedestrian zone. This means access for loading only is available between 5am and 11 am from Sunday to Friday, and between 5am and 9am on Saturdays.
Cank Street and Hotel Street have been permanently incorporated into the existing Market Place pedestrian zone, which allows access for deliveries from 5am to 10am, and from 4pm to 6pm, seven days a week.