Vision of £1.1m Victoria Park revamp unveiled by Leicester's mayor
Plans for a £1.1 million revamp of one of Leicester's most popular parks have been unveiled.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby yesterday outlined his proposals to remodel the area of Victoria Park, near the city's most prominent war memorial.
The mayor wants to create a tree-lined processional walk joining the memorial arch to a set of lodge gates on the London Road edge of the park about 300 yards away.
The arch and gates were designed by renowned Imperial architect Sir Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the city's war dead after the First World War.
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Sir Peter said he wanted to restore a link between the two historic features.
The initial plans were reported in the Mercury a year ago, but the mayor yesterday revealed further details.
Lutyens' arch was completed in 1925 and the gates were installed shortly after.
They were donated by one of Sir Peter's predecessors, Sir Jonathan North, Leicester's mayor during the Great War.
Sir Peter said: "That memorial arch and those gates are two of the finest features in the city and they were put in place to complement each other.
"Over the years, that connection has been lost and now you can't see one from the other.
"I want to restore the link that has been lost. What we have in mind is something not dissimilar to New Walk."
Sir Peter said the plan would also involve redesigning the council car park next to the gates, which he described as scruffy and chaotic.
He said: "That car park serves De Montfort Hall but it serves it very poorly.
"To be honest it is a disgrace. It is actually two car parks with separate entrances and exits and is very confusing.
"It becomes jam-packed when there are big events on at De Montfort Hall and more spaces are needed."
Under the plans, the two car parks will be merged and the number of spaces increased from 120 to 180.
They would sit alongside the processional walk.
The council estimates the remodeled car park will generate £45,000 a year.
Under the scheme, the existing park tennis courts would be moved back slightly and refurbished. New toilets are also being considered and a potential skate park.
Sir Peter said the work would coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014 but said it was unlikely the project would be completed before Remembrance Sunday of that year.
A consultation will run until February or March and, pending planning permission, work could start early in 2014 and finish early in 2015.
Tory opposition councillor Ross Grant said: "On paper this sounds like a good scheme but I would be concerned about it being another expensive project dreamed up by the mayor.
"The council has tight budgets yet he has £1.1 million for this, £4 million for Jubilee Square and £850,000 for a Richard III building.
"He's racking up a lot of spending but I can't see a clear strategy for it."
Defending the cost, Sir Peter said: "It ticks a lot of boxes. It is not just about creating a walk but it solves the problem of that very poor car park and improves the park facilities."
Sally Williams, of the Victoria Park Users Group, said: "I am positive about the idea.
"Victoria Park has often been neglected."