Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What happened to the Leicester Waterside vision?

With reference to a recent Leicester Mercury article under the heading "A50 branded worst entrance into city as Vaughan Way shopping and flats complex approved", it is clear that the whole Frog Island area is in desperate need of regeneration.

However, one would hope that any further regeneration would occur in a more sensitive manner that respects Leicester's heritage. This is where the Leicester Waterside vision could come in, which unfortunately seems to have fallen by the wayside and could do with resurrecting.

For background information see here.

As it happens, I attended the Leicester Waterside launch event in August 2011, wearing my Leicester Civic Society, Inland Waterways Association and Friends of the Earth hats – see here. A 39-page presentation (with a rather large file size of 68 MB) is available from here. In case you are not aware, "AshSakula" are architects Cany Ash and Robert Sakula.

Update 5 January 2015:
The announcement: "More than £26 million to be ploughed into regenerating Leicester's run-down waterside area" is very timely! The project is exciting and offers plenty of scope for genuinely sustainable development, but we must remain vigilant and ensure that the sustainability aspect is not watered down.

Friday, 31 October 2014

An article about a skatepark in Hornchurch becoming a listed building prompted the following comment.

Rodders65  |  October 30 2014, 9:23AM
Blimey, If SPS sees this he'll be wanting one to replace New Walk centre.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Tesco "land bank" could house a small city

Tesco land bank could house a small city

Company accused of hoarding land

Tesco owns enough unused land to build 15,000 houses, according to an analysis of Land Registry records by the Guardian.

The company owns around 310 sites, most bought in the 1990s and 2000s, and adding up to 4.6 million square metres or 1,100 acres. Some of this land already carries houses or is let to other retailers, but most is completely undeveloped.

Click on link above to see more

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Empire Hotel pictures sent from Australia

Empire Hotel, Fosse Road North, Leicester
Although I now live in Australia and work in Liberia, I too would be saddened if this building were to be demolished.

Abandoned Church of St Augustine, Fosse Road North, Leicester

Empire Hotel, Fosse Road North

As Leicester Civic Society Webmaster I am seeing all the emails received in support of our current campaigns. This one was sent to Leicester City Council Planning Department in response to the Empire Hotel one.
"I understand that Lidl supermarkets have applied to have this listed Georgian building demolished to make way for yet another food store, right next to Tesco's.  Since the Empire IS a listed building, with a considerable amount of Leicester's history attached, it could be opened as a museum of the Newfoundpool area for the local community.  I urge you to consider the application very seriously.  Leicester's cultural and architectural heritage has been eroded considerably in the past to make way for roads and student accommodation and giant supermarkets.....soon there will be nothing left BUT roads, student accommodation and food outlets.  Leicester is a Roman city and could have had the sort of valuable tourism which places like York and Chester enjoy, had it not been for disastrous destruction in earlier decades.  Please preserve ALL the precious heritage that remains, and protect this building, which is listed and should therefore be safe from destruction."

Monday, 24 February 2014

Summit Tower reflection

Leicester's Summit Tower building is controversial (although I have to 'confess' that I actually quite like it), but I dare say no-one will fail to be impressed by the Summit Tower reflection photo that appeared in the Leicester Mercury the other day.

Monday, 17 February 2014

John Burrows comment and the riposte (Chairman's Page)

Editing material from old Leicester Citizens for use here and in Miscellany (web page) I found this exchange of ideas - what are your views?

Chairman’s Page (Issue 2 – December 2003)
Wind farms are in the news again. As if our green and pleasant land is not already disfigured by a mass of snaking power transmission lines, yet more 'visual rape' is suggested. Has anyone ever bothered to work out the cost/benefit ratio of this so-called “free energy”? The loss of visual amenity? The view in plain English goes like this: A wind farm is proposed three miles off the Lincolnshire coast. If this comes about, the serene beauty of being able to look to the far horizon will be forever blotted. Or try this: Remember the Lake District and Cumbria? Get the existing views on film and video now before they too become a fading memory. The Peak District too could be another threatened treasure. Think of what could happen to Bradgate Park'

The only place for wind farms is above Parliament where the supply of wind and hot air is always 100% guaranteed!

A riposte in the next issue of Leicester Citizen
"Dear Sirs,

I must take issue with John Burrows on the subject of wind turbines. (Chairman’s page Leicester Citizen No.2) The expanded use of renewable energy is clean, efficient, cheap and by definition limitless. It is by no exaggeration one of the great discoveries of the modern age and one that may quite literally save the planet.

All environmentalists share Mr. Burrows' concerns about visual amenity. Yet the site off the Lincolnshire coast, to which he refers, will be 42 kilometres offshore and therefore actually over the horizon. Offshore areas such as these have the greatest consistent levels of wind and it is here where the future lies.

There are tight controls over developments in National Parks and in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Whether those controls need tightening further is of a matter for continuing serious debate. However, contrary to popular belief such areas are not an obvious target for wind farms. As Great Britain and lreland are stuck out in the Atlantic they are the windiest countries in Europe. You even don't need a hill for a wind turbine to operate efficiently.

The Government proposes 10% energy from renewables - principally wind - by 2010 and 20% by 2020. Both Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace believe figures double these are both attainable and necessary. Whereas it is quite right for Civic Societies to concern themselves with visual amenity we must all recognise that there are larger environmental issues at stake.

Name and address supplied."

What do you think? Who is right?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Welford Road Cemetery App

The launch taking place at Welford Road Cemetery Visitor Centre

I went to the launch of the Welford Road Cemetery App this morning. It is a project between the Friends of Welford Road Cemetery, Heritage Lottery Fund and De Montfort University.

The app allows you to view information and the stories of people who have been buried in the cemetery. You can search alphabetically, on particular themes such as politicians, musicians etc...and their location is displayed on a map, which can also show your relative position. This latter feature is particularly useful for me, as I have been lost in the cemetery a couple of times. I believe each entry will also include a picture of the gravestone, which is invaluable as they can be quite tricky to find.

Around 180 stories have been researched and written for the app but they have also been turned into leaflets which are themed: 'War and Peace', 'Gruesome', 'Women'. They also include a map of where each grave is and both the leaflets and the app are a fantastic way to explore the cemetery and learn about the people buried there.

The app will be released on iPhone soon, once a little more information is added.

A letter from Olwen Hughes in 2009 to the Leicester Mercury regarding the "Pump and Tap" (Bowstring Bridge)

Found this and thought it worth preserving


What a disgrace

By This is Leicestershire  |  Posted: December 05, 2009
<P>The Pump and Tap</P>
The Pump and Tap
 Comments (0)
So, the Pump and Tap pub is being demolished, the most recent victim of the wish by De Montfort University's management body to get hold of as much land as possible in the western part of the city centre so that the university can expand.
Not for them is there any benefit to be gained by adapting what is there already, and keeping everybody happy. No: sweep it all away and ignore what anyone thinks.
It seems to me that this aim has been actively aided by the ruling Labour group on the city council to the extent that this part of Leicester might well now be called De Montfort City.
The victims are, of course, all of us, for we were negligent enough to not vote in large enough numbers to make sure that the Labour Party, or any other for that matter, did not have an overall majority over all the other parties put together at the last local elections.
As one of the pub's customers, Iain Baughan, said (Mercury, November 25): "Nowhere else in the world would anyone dream of pulling them down" (this referring to the Bowstring Bridge and the pub).
Built in 1828, so it is actually a pre-Victorian building, the pub has lasted on this site for 181 years, and has been the happy drinking and socialising venue for countless thousands of people over that time.
Along comes the upstart, never-satisfied-with-what-it-has-got university, aided and abetted by the city council, and its future is gone in a blink.
Soon it will be no more than a memory, as will the bridge at its side, together with the tens of millions of blue bricks behind it, lovingly built by theworkers into the arches and railway that many of us travelled on.
What a disgrace!
Olwen Hughes, Leicester."

Read more: http://legacy.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/disgrace/story-12065673-detail/story.html#ixzz2rV4HcyZD

Monday, 20 January 2014

Picture of the day: Leicester's West Bridge, and related musings

Today's "Picture of the day" column in the Leicester Mercury shows this brilliant picture of  Leicester's West Bridge:

Here is the text that goes with it:
This photograph of the West Bridge goes right back to the days when Leicester still had horse buses – not trams. Ooh look, here comes one now. The bridge was built in 1891 by John Butler and Co, of Leeds, whose tender of £2,999 17s. Id was within 2s 11d of the Borough Surveyor’s estimated costs of the work. That’s either consonance born of the painstaking work of two pernickety minds or a bit dodgy. One of the two. Anyway, when the bridge took shape across the water it was embellished with a decorative flourish rarely spotted by the drivers who whizz by each day. The stone heads that decorate the bridge’s towers are the cast of characters from The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is reputed to have married at the nearby church of St Mary de Castro, which you can see in the background.
LCS Chairman Stuart Bailey provides further information:

The current bridge dates from 1893. The horse trams didn't run west of the clock tower as the old town streets were too narrow, so it was horse buses all the way until 1904 when the electric trams started. Of course this involved substantial demolition on High Street and St. Nicholas Street. Among the historic properties lost were Lords Place (1569) and John Bunyan's house (1676). The cleared land between Redcross Street and the river was Pickford's old yard, which became Castle Gardens - but not until 1926. The photo itself must have been taken from the Great Central's bridge over the Soar, which wasn't there until 1898. All this dates the photo to sometime between 1898 and 1903.

Speaking of horse buses, the photo below is of St. Nicholas Street and High Street taken c1892. It's the late afternoon rush hour - the Sun is in the west. The old house behind the lady's sun umbrellas is that of John Bunyan. (Well half of it actually - but that's another story). The view is from a first floor window of Norman's Factory, which stood above where the Roman Baths were to be rediscovered some 44 years later. It is looking down towards the Clock Tower. Nothing in this photo is there now - except St. Martins spire (1870). What a wonderful place this old city is!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It could have been (even) worse

Looking through "The History of New Walk, Leicester" by Helen E. Boynton, published in 2002, I am reminded that the heritage vandalism that was inflicted on Leicester in the 1960s and 70s could have been even worse. The image and caption below speak for themselves.