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Leicester Conference Centre to benefit as Cathedral Quarter redevelopment plan receives £1m of European cash

Leicester venue St Martins House Conference Centre is part of a major redevelopment scheme following the announcement that the city’s Cathedral Quarter has been awarded £1milllion of European cash, alongside funding from Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.

Leicester City Council made the successful bid to the European Regional Development Fund towards a £2.5million project to create Cathedral Gardens - a new public area outside Leicester Cathedral - and reconstruct Peacock Lane where the conference centre is located.

General manager of St Martins House Conference Centre, Nick Quinn, spoke about the added dimension the new gardens will bring for businesses holding events at the centre as well as private functions: “The finished gardens will give us a valuable outdoor space in addition to the existing Grand Hall and series of meeting rooms we already offer. It will have the potential to be used both as an outdoor venue with seating for up to 800 people and as an informal gathering area for guests attending weddings at the Cathedral or receptions.”

Work on the project is due to start at the beginning of November.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is excellent news. Cathedral Gardens is a really important project for the city and the ERDF award is a clear endorsement of that.

“This is a huge step forward for the wider plans to create a new Cathedral Quarter, which will help make this historic area an even more attractive destination for visitors and something the whole city can be proud of.

"The award clearly recognises the economic benefits that investment in this fantastic project will bring to the city."

The City Mayor has also confirmed that the city council will make a contribution of £950,000 towards the overall project costs, and also manage the construction contract. which is due to be awarded imminently.

Leicestershire County Council has already pledged £250,000 funding to the cathedral. This will pay for a new artwork and a contribution towards the scheme.

Leicester Cathedral and Diocese have successfully raised the balance of funding required.

The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, said: “We’re delighted that the new Cathedral Quarter Partnership can now commit to its first joint project, with the creation of Cathedral Gardens, which will provide a delightful green space in the heart of the city.

“We have long wished to provide a fitting setting for the cathedral of this city and county and it’s especially fitting that we can now expect to have this work completed in time to mark the reinterment of King Richard III.“

Cathedral Gardens will create a new public space outside Leicester's historic cathedral, including a lawn with seating, gardens planted with trees and flowers, and a water feature. It will combine the precincts of the cathedral with the car park of the redeveloped St Martins House Conference Centre and diocese building to create a much bigger open space. As well as offering conference and meeting accommodation, the venue fulfils a vital function as a meeting place for community groups, charities and support organisations.

Leicester’s statue of King Richard III, which currently stands in Castle Gardens will be relocated to the new gardens. Leicestershire County Council is also commissioning a new work of art, to signify the links between the site of Richard III’s death on Bosworth Battlefield and the cathedral, as part of the project.

As part of the Cathedral Gardens scheme, the city council will improve Peacock Lane with new high quality paving, a level carriageway and new street furniture.

A stretch of St Martin’s - from Grey Friars to New Street - will be pedestrianised and reconstructed in high quality porphyry stone to create an attractive approach to the new King Richard III Visitor Centre.

The work will make up part of the newly announced Cathedral Quarter, which will also include Guildhall Lane, St Martin's East, Peacock Lane and Applegate. The aim is to create an historic district, with the King Richard III Visitor Centre as a key attraction.

The European Regional Development Fund programme was established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.

The Cathedral Gardens and Peacock Lane/St Martin’s scheme is a key part of Connecting Leicester - a major programme of works that’s improving pedestrian links between Leicester’s historic buildings and heritage sites and the modern heart of the city centre.

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