Scheme drawn up to restore historic railway repair sheds
A developer which had wanted to demolish a Victorian railway building now wants to restore it.
Jamie Lewis Residential had wanted to remove the 1890s Great Central Railway wagon repair works, next to Upperton Road, Leicester to make way for an eight-storey student flats complex.
More than 400 people opposed the scheme and, following their objections, a planning application was withdrawn.
The company has now submitted plans which keep the disused wagon works and propose a £10 million conversion into a medical centre, gym, drive-through restaurant and food store.
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The firm's managing director, Jamie Lewis, said: "We are hoping the city council will approve our application, which enables the wagon repair sheds to be retained and reused.
"There is to be no additional student accommodation.
"While we did not previously consider the sheds to be of great architectural merit or of local interest compared to many other old buildings in the city, we clearly got this wrong.
"It is evident the history of Great Central Railway and its associated buildings are of significant interest to the community, as well as railway enthusiasts.
"The reworking of the scheme has come about after architectural and heritage consultations."
Mr Lewis said his firm had a great track record of bringing Victorian buildings back into use – including Gimson Villas, in Glenfield Road, and the former Equity Shoes Building, in Western Road
Last month, the wagon works were included in Leicester Victorian Society's top 10 most important city buildings at risk of falling into ruin.
The building, recently bought by Jamie Lewis from CPH Thurmaston, has been unoccupied for some time and has been targeted by metal thieves and vandals.
Victorian Society vice-chairman Jon Goodall said: "We are quite pleased with the new proposals, especially as at one point the building was set to be destroyed.
"There is little left in Leicester as evidence of the Great Central Railway and it is so it important it is not lost.
"I think the uses he (Mr Lewis) has in mind would work well.
"There has been a lot of concern about the plans he has put in previously but this one looks acceptable."
Mr Lewis said: "Discussions have taken place with a number of potential occupiers and these will be resumed if planning consent is granted.
"In the present economic climate, end users and occupiers usually await a planning permission before committing themselves.
"We have committed £30 million of investment in new-build projects within the city over the past three years and created many hundreds of construction jobs at a time when the industry is suffering."
Charles Turner, 66, who lives off Upperton Road, said: "There has been a long-running battle to try to prevent Jamie Lewis flinging student flats up everywhere.
"But at least he seems to have listened to people's concerns now."
Jamie Lewis has already built a block of student flats near the wagon works.
The city council's planning department is considering the latest proposals.