Square will enhance city
Plans to build a new public space, called Jubilee Square, in the St Nicholas Circle area of Leicester have been surrounded by controversy since being first announced earlier this year by city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. Opponents believe it is wrong to spend £4 million on this at a time of cutbacks and there have also been concerns about the loss of existing car parking spaces and the impact this might have on trade in the area.
We have been supportive of the Jubilee Square project throughout and our immediate impression of the new designs is positive. We like the fact that the planned square will be an uncluttered open space with a simple mixture of large, lawned areas and landscaping. The aim is that the hard-standing spaces could be used for a ferris wheel or ice-rink at Christmas and for temporary events and festivals.
This is a good idea and will help to give shoppers an extra reason to come to Leicester and attract more people to this part of the city.
However, we would hope these events were held sparingly, because the attraction of an open, relatively peaceful space is a refreshing change to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city centre.
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The idea of a terraced garden and panels along the western edge of the square is an excellent way of screening it off from the busy ring road and will contribute to the sense of a place in which people can relax. We also like the plans for paths across the square which will give visitors easily accessible routes to the High Street, Peacock Lane, Castle Park and Jewry Wall Museum.
One of the main points of this project is to connect up the historic heart of Leicester's old town with its retail centre and this will help to do that.
We understand the concerns which have been expressed about the cost of the project at a time of austerity. However, it is important to continue to invest in Leicester so that more people come here to use the city's shops, restaurants and cafes. That will help to create jobs and prosperity. So it is crucial to continue to improve and enhance the city centre, and Jubilee Square will help revitalise an area which is a little off the map for many visitors at present.
The car parking spaces which will be lost by the redevelopment are a concern and they should be replaced nearby, which is the intention. However, the overall benefit of the scheme in attracting people to this part of town will have a benefit on trade which surely outweighs any relocation of parking spaces.
In our opinion, this is a good thing for Leicester, and it promises to be a pleasant and attractive new open space which will complement the many great things the city already has to offer.