Two empty shops near Leicester Market are to be demolished to create a new public space in the city centre.
The disused, 1970s-built premises are to be ‘knocked through’ to create a new pedestrian link between Green Dragon Square and Cank Street as part of a city council plan to open up the St Martin’s shopping area.
The authority’s own planners this week approved the £2.6 million project, which will also see the ground floor of a remaining empty shop turned into a cafe or restaurant.
The plan is to create a pedestrian route from St Martin’s all the way to Town Hall Square, via the new open space on the other side of Green Dragon Square, which was created by demolishing an empty shop and removing with it a dingy, urine-soaked alley way.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to continue the link we have created to Town Hall Square.
“It is an important part of our plans to create an attractive area for shoppers – which is doubly important as the city centre looks to recover from the Covid pandemic.”
The council bought the shops four years ago and initially looked at leasing them to try to get a rental income but did not receive any significant interest, so now favours demolition.
Sir Peter has suggested the car park at the back of the shops, which will be opened up by the demolition, could be the site of a small, box-park style development, in which shipping containers are used as pop-up venues for independent shops, bars and restaurants.
It has also been suggested the area could become an urban green space.
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Shoppers told LeicestershireLive they were keen on the idea of the new public space.
Andrea Gregson, 61, from Glenfield, said: “If nobody wants to use the shops then they might as well be knocked down.
“It’s got the potential to be a nice little cut through.”
Asif Ramani, 30, from the city’s West End, said: “It’s a lot of money to create an empty space but those shops aren’t much to look at.
“It sounds like it could be nice.”
There were a handful of objections to the scheme submitted which said its design was bland an unimaginitive.
Work to create the new route is expected to start later this year.
This Article firstly Publish on www.leicestermercury.co.uk