A MAJOR drive to regenerate Leicester’s Waterside area has reached an important milestone.
Leicester City Council – which is spearheading the transformation of a largely derelict industrial area on the banks of the River Soar – has named its development partner.
Following a detailed process of competitive tendering, leading UK regeneration and construction specialist Keepmoat Homes Ltd has been awarded the contract to deliver the first phase of the Waterside regeneration project.
Keepmoat’s winning bid will deliver over 300 new homes and 5,500sqm of office space, along with new parks and green space, and bring an anticipated £45milllion of private investment into the area.
Leicester City Council has already earmarked £15milllion of capital funding for the Waterside scheme. The Leicester and Leicester Enterprise Partnership also successfully bid for £20milllion from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to support the major regeneration project.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Waterside is a tremendous opportunity for the city which will attract over £65milllion of inward investment into Leicester and, of course, bring jobs to the people of the city.
“The appointment of our development partner is an important milestone that brings us another step closer to the regeneration of this key area of the city.
“We want to transform this long-neglected area of the city into a thriving neighbourhood with great places to live, space for businesses to flourish and excellent access to the city’s beautiful riverside.”
Andrew Mason, Regional Director for Keepmoat Homes, said: ‘We are delighted to be selected as preferred developer to deliver Phase One of the Waterside development.
“Keepmoat has an exemplary track record in working with public sector organisations to deliver their regeneration aspirations and we look forward to working in partnership with Leicester City Council to deliver our joint vision for Waterside.
“We believe this scheme offers a unique opportunity to maximise the full potential of the waterside setting and transform the area, creating an exciting housing offer and providing a new high-quality office location in the city centre.”
Homes planned for this first phase of the Waterside development will be a mix of mainly two- and three-storey town houses in tree-lined streets, with an attractive new neighbourhood park.
Keepmoat’s proposed scheme will also help create better access to the River Soar and space for wildlife to flourish. It includes the creation of new riverside footpaths, wooded nature-areas and more public green space, including a small park, with a pub or café/bar and pontoons for launching canoes, on Soar Island.
The unique two-acre island itself will be redeveloped as a residential area, providing a stunning setting for around 30 new homes.
New office development will help transform a stretch of the A50, from Frog Island to Sanvey Gate, providing space for new businesses and a much more attractive gateway to the city centre.
Keepmoat will be obliged to complete at least 100 homes and over 1,850sqm of new office space, along with all required infrastructure, by 2020.
The city council aims to have assembled all land earmarked for development in the 18-acre site over the next six to 12 months, with the developer due to begin work on site by the end of 2017.
Over three-quarters of the land required has already been acquired. A case will now need to be submitted to Government for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the remaining plots.
CPOs are used by local authorities to assemble land for complex regeneration projects which are in the public interest, particularly those which involve multiple land ownerships.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby added: “Waterside has the potential to be one of the most exciting large-scale regeneration opportunities in the East Midlands. It is vital that we maintain the momentum created around this fantastic opportunity for the city’s growth.
“As a council, one of the most important things that we can do to help ensure it moves forward as quickly as possible is to help assemble the land for the developer.
“Although only used as a last resort, compulsory purchase orders can be a vital tool in driving forward major regeneration schemes that benefit the whole city.”
In Leicester, CPOs of this nature have been instrumental in major regeneration schemes including the Highcross development ten years ago; City Challenge in the mid-1990s; and the original Shires Shopping Centre development in the 1980s.
The overall development of the first phase of the Waterside regeneration project could be complete by the end of 2023.