Traders' mixed reaction to revamp of Silver Street in Leicester
A city centre shopping street is set to get a £400,000 revamp.
Leicester City Council is refurbishing Silver Street, which links High Street to the cafes, boutiques and independent shops of The Lanes and St Martins.
Work begins on Monday, when the street will be closed to all traffic, bar the emergency services, until the end of March. It will involve resurfacing, reconstructing footpaths and removing raised kerbs.
A consultation on the planned improvements ended yesterday, with shop owners, in the main, welcoming the scheme.
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However, some are concerned about the impact of three months of disruption to their businesses.
"I'm worried that by closing the street to traffic, pedestrians will be put off, too," said Jo Chapman, manager of Voodoo, which sells fashion wear. "That's exactly what happened in High Street a few years ago.
"I don't see why the council can't do the work a bit quicker – because three months seems an awful long time just to resurface a small street."
Maz Thompson, co-owner of The Very Bazaar, said: "I don't think much of the consultation – all we had was a letter. We've been here 40 years and you'd think we could have some say in it. Having said that, I do think it will make the street look much nicer. We were a bit disappointed when Loseby Lane was resurfaced but we were left out.
"I want to see it done, but my main worry is a loss of trade – I'd like some reassurances that pedestrians will be able to easily access all the shops. There's also the problem of deliveries."
Once complete, it is hoped the new-look Silver Street will complement refurbishments already made to its junctions with High Street and Carts Lane.
Materials used will match those of other recently-revamped streets in nearby Loseby Lane and Cank Street, with terra cotta-coloured asphalt on the road and a contrasting, coloured pedestrian channel instead of a traditional raised kerb.
The scheme will also feature granite block work at the entrances to Malcolm Arcade, Royal Arcade and St Martin's Shopping Centre.
Chris Cobbett-Rayment, assistant manager at The Globe pub, said: "I think it's a great idea. I can't count the times I've almost broken an ankle on that kerb.
"While I appreciate worries about disruption to trade and deliveries, I think it will make the street more inviting and encourage visitors."
The project is part of city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby's Connecting Leicester vision, which he hopes will make the city more attractive and encourage regeneration.
"Silver Street is a gem that links High Street with The Lanes and St Martin's Shopping Centre, and should provide a really attractive route through to the historical and architectural treasures in Cathedral Square and Guildhall Lane," he said. "We want to help ensure Silver Street continues to thrive by strengthening its links to other key shopping areas and making it a really attractive part of our city centre."
He said pedestrian access would be unaffected during the works, and said the council's project design team had worked closely with local businesses to agree the design.