Bus station revamp sent back to drawing board
Work is to start again on ways to improve a congested bus station after the failure of a bid for Government cash.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has approved the spending of £300,000 to draw up designs for Haymarket bus station, in Charles Street.
The city council said the station did not have enough spaces for all the buses using it, leading to queues, delays and pollution from stationary vehicles.
A bid for £5 million from the Government's Better Bus Area fund was rejected earlier this year.
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The council had wanted to put the cash towards a £13 million covered bus station, similar to St Margaret's.
Officials from the Department of Transport decided that would be too expensive and offer poor value for money.
The council said a solution was still needed and it was going back to the drawing board.
Transport spokesman Councillor Rory Palmer said: "It was frustrating to miss out on the Government money but I said at the time I did not want the project to stand still.
"There are just not enough spaces where buses can safely pick up and set down passengers in the city centre.
"The shortage of bus stands means we need to increase capacity.
"Beyond that, there is the need to improve the appearance of the bus station. It is very tired and needs a facelift.
"It needs to be a more pleasant environment if we want to encourage bus travel. There are fumes and it doesn't feel safe."
Coun Palmer said he could not say how much the revised scheme would cost before the new designs were completed.
He said the matter was complicated by the fact some of the land was under private ownership.
He said he hoped the design work could be completed over the coming few months, in time for a consultation early in the new year.
"We have heard Liberal Democrat ministers, speaking at their party conference this week, about the importance of bus travel, so I would hope they back that up and give council's a further opportunity to bid for Government finance," Coun Palmer said.
"We are also looking at other funding options but we need to do the design work.
"My hope is that we can complete the improvements within two years."
Bus passengers said something needed to be done to improve the station.
Fiona Mazzi, 46, of Crown Hills, Leicester, said: "It's grim and grotty and you can see how frustrated the bus drivers get with it.
"I hope it can be sorted out and made nicer and easier to use."
Imran Patel, 56, of Highfields, Leicester, said: "Is this another big plan for the bus station?
"They come along every couple of years. I'll believe it when I see it."