Tuesday, 8 December 2009


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Church leaders unveil plans to transform Leicester's cathedral square
Church leaders have unveiled plans to turn an historic area into a public square.
About £1m will be spent creating a plaza outside Leicester Cathedral – one larger than Town Hall Square, with seating for 1,000 people.
It is the first phase of a £12m plan to develop the building and the area around it, which includes the former grounds of Leicester Grammar School.
The buildings were bought by the church in March 2008.
The square will form part of the Heritage Quarter being planned by the city council.
It will include the Magazine, Jewry Wall museum and Castle Gardens.
Plans have been submitted to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.
Pete Hobson, director of the project at the Diocese of Leicester, said: "It is one of the oldest areas of Leicester and it deserves attention.
"The work to the cathedral will involve flattening the mounds outside it and levelling the area to create a larger public space with greenery.
"However, it's only the first stage of the project and we are still developing it."
The commission, the body responsible for all Church of England cathedrals, will consider the plans next month.
Dean of Leicester Vivienne Faull said: "Leicester Cathedral is a little-known gem hidden away in our city.
"By developing the space in front of it in this way, we will not only be creating a safer and much more welcoming place, but also a space that can be used by both city and church for large gatherings of all sorts."
Developers have suggested a series of water features, including jets placed within the pavement and a Place Line – a memorial in the form of a pavement inlay, detailing the city's history.
All of the headstones in the area surrounding the cathedral would be removed.
However, the details would be recorded and an alternative memorial incorporated into the design.
Derek Hollingworth, vice-chairman of Leicester Civic Society, said: "It's a good idea and a step in the right direction.
"We need to conserve and restore as many parts of historic Leicester as we can.
"I knew something was in the pipeline for the historic quarter and now it's good to see someone has finally put pen to paper."
Developers said there would be the potential to create a performance stage.
The last phase of the development is expected to see the restoration of the inside of the cathedral and the development of the highways around the site.
Proposals for the former school, would see it transformed into the St Nicholas Centre.
This would house a dance studio, exhibition areas and conference halls.

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