Sainsbury's doesn't need to relocate to derelict site
I have followed with mixed interest and concern, public reaction to Sainsbury's proposal to relocate their store off Belgrave Circle to the former Thorn Lighting site on Melton Road.
This suggests a gravitation of major superstores in the northern side of the city to the northern suburbs, with the Asda store at Thurmaston, and the forthcoming one off Abbey Lane.
Rushey Mead residents are calling for a community centre, and I would think Sainsbury's could provide one on the part of the Thorn Lighting site it doesn't need.
The present store recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, attended by the city mayor (where I happened to be shopping on the day).
I would have thought the present site could remain as it is. Presumably, Sainsbury's would not want the competition from another supermarket, but the building could become, say, a DIY store or another furniture retailer.
The planning application not only proposes a total redevelopment of the existing site with a mixed use scheme, but even the demolition of the Belgrave Flyover, for which Sainsbury's is prepared to pay. This is indicative of the huge profits earned by the major supermarket chains.
A concomitant narrowing of the roadway in the northern approach to Belgrave Circle would only gain a small strip of extra land, and local traders are saying that more retail units are not wanted.
My records show that Belgrave Circle, and the flyover, first appeared on local street maps in the mid-1970s, before the Burleys Flyover.
It was designed to alleviate a notorious traffic bottleneck at the Abbey Park Road/Belgrave Road junction. It had to be built as a two-lane road in each direction in order to obtain Government funding, but has been restricted to one lane each way ever since by white road markings. The traffic lights came later to control rising levels of use.
At the time, Belgrave Road was a major trunk road, carrying the northbound A6, A46 and A607. Abbey Park Road was designated at the time as the A5125, as was Dysart Way, skirting the St Matthew's Estate, dating from around 1970, and replacing the now-truncated Syston and Cobden Streets, then the B5327.
A short stretch of Abbey Park Road was re-routed on to Belgrave Circle, and the original route survives as Abbey Park Street.
Subsequently, the A6 designation was transferred to Abbey Lane, then the A5131, and is now becoming increasingly over-used, and the A46 is now the Leicester Western Bypass, leaving Belgrave Road only as the A607.
With its lack of parking, it is surprising the Golden Mile has prospered in the way it has.
Although the flyover looks in need of a facelift, I fear the city council does not have the wisdom to refuse this part of the application, bearing in mind the likely rise in traffic.
Keith Dickens, Leicester.