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Plans to transform Leicester’s St Margaret’s junction to help encourage more walking and cycling, and improve bus journey times, have been revealed.

Leicester City Council has submitted a bid for over £12million from the second round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which is designed for long-term, major capital projects which will help create jobs, encourage new investment and enable business growth.

The proposed highway development project would transform the sprawling junction linking St Margaret’s Way, Burleys Way, Vaughan Way and Church Gate. It will also see the removal of the city’s last remaining pedestrian underpasses on the inner ring road, which surveys indicate many people choose not to use due to safety concerns and the fear of crime.

Picture: Leicester City Council

If successful, the bid will help fund the closing and filling-in of the underpasses along with major remodelling of the junction to help improve bus journey times, provide a more attractive route for walkers and cyclists and create more green space, with new tree planting, at this important gateway into the city centre.

The proposed works include the introduction of new bus lanes on sections of St Margaret’s Way and Sanvey Gate. This would help improve journey times and service reliability by creating a direct link between the new St Margaret’s Bus Station and the A6, A50 and Anstey Lane bus corridors.

New off-road segregated cycle tracks would also be created on parts of St Margaret’s Way and Sanvey Gate to link to recently created and planned works expanding the citywide network of safer routes for cyclists.

Footpaths would be widened and improved, and new parallel crossings for pedestrians and cyclists will be introduced across the busy junction.

The number of general traffic lanes will be unaffected.

New landscaping would also help create a stronger link between the city centre and the medieval St Margaret’s Church building, which dates back to the 13th century.

The proposals are intended to encourage more walking and cycling at this important gateway into the city centre, with transport surveys showing that currently just three per cent of people using the junction do so on foot or bike.

The scheme will also help to promote new development and regeneration in the area to provide more new, city centre homes.

Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, said: “The St Margaret’s junction is an outdated throwback to the original 1970s ring road design. Its underpasses are unappealing to pedestrians and are a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

“As it stands the junction is a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists, and the current arrangement does no favours for buses leaving the new St Margaret’s Station.

“These proposals will address an important missing link in our transport network and help this sprawling junction into an attractive gateway into the city centre for all road users. It will also help reveal one of Leicester’s finest historic church buildings and reconnect it and the surrounding area to the city centre.

“It is essential that we continue to invest in making roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, to help encourage more people to leave the car at home and choose cleaner, greener and cheaper ways of getting about in the city.

“Providing more attractive and sustainable travel choices for people will help deliver a greener solution for the future growth of the city and support our work around the climate emergency and air quality improvements. We need to be radical and ambitious to meet these challenges.”

A decision on the city council’s bid for £12 million of support from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund is expected in October 2022.

If given the go-ahead, the city council will invest £3 million of capital funding towards the project and work would could get underway in late-2023. The underpass is likely to be closed to the public from November 2022.