Thursday, 2 April 2015

Richard III Rides Again: A postscript.

Last week saw the reburial of Richard III in Leicester. I am sure we can all think how the event could have made even better. In a different life I used to organize major City centre events. I would have had a larger procession and encouraged Channel 4 to take better camera positions (or moved the procession) to show the City off better. But if I had been organising it I would have doubtless got something else not quite right. The bottom line is that it was brilliant for the City in a multiplicity of ways. End of story.

And to be honest the same applies to current Leicester City Centre planning. For example, I would have designed Jubilee Square differently by enclosing the western side of the space to create a much better sense of enclosure and block the unattractive views of the multi-storey car park and the student flats to the west.

But overall again the public sector is doing very well in the City.

I do a significant amount of work in Nottingham. In many ways the, at times, poor relation of Leicester is stealing a march on the City of Robin Hood. At times to me there appears is a paralysis of action there.  This extends from the many times delayed new tram lines to shopping centres that are not a patch on the Highcross in Leicester, as well as possibly there being more large vacant sites near the centre. 

What Leicester needs most is the private sector to follow the public sector lead in the way it has done in the Cultural Quarter with schemes such as the Athena, the redevelopment of the Charles Street Police Headquarters (now known as Colton Square) and now the rapid occupation of the "Blue Tower," near the railway station, for a wide variety of compatible uses.
The successful Colton Square development
There are calls by some in Leicester’s private sector for more help and financial incentives from the Council. This ranges from making car access easier, more car parking and enterprise zones to business incentives. In my opinion this is wrong. Leicester has its act together in a way that puts competing cities to shame. And others should get on the bandwagon, as IBM have with a major new investment in the City centre. Developers should do this before property prices rise substantially.

The property cycle is in the best position for years for successful development. Don’t miss out.

Peter Wilkinson