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A planning application to continue the regeneration programme along Leicester’s waterside has been submitted by multi-disciplinary design practice, rg+p Ltd.

Acting on behalf of Trafalgar Global, rg+p has designed and submitted a proposal for 360 new homes on vacant brownfield land to the west of Charles Bennion Walk, formerly part of the British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) site. Comprising seven apartment buildings ranging in height between four and five storeys, the proposed scheme also includes 43 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses, and allocated parking.

“The land at Charles Bennion Walk forms part of a wider regeneration plan first envisaged in the early 2000’s,” explains rg+p’s director, James Badley. “This includes the neighbouring schemes at Wolsey Island and Abbey Park Road, both of which we designed and have now been delivered, so it’s exciting to be able to continue transforming the cityscape with this application.

“Working closely with the local authority planning team and our client, we’re proposing a high-quality residential development that suits modern living yet honours the site’s footwear manufacturing heritage.”

rg+p’s design approach was shaped by the site’s industrial history, proximity to local landmarks including the National Space Centre, and the traditional architectural language of buildings along the Grand Union Canal.

The firm’s design director, Ben Walton continues: “Our design narrative plays on the waterside location and Leicester’s rich heritage in garment and shoe machinery production. The site was the former home of BUSM, which at one point was the world’s largest manufacturer of footwear machinery, exporting to more than 50 countries.

“This is interpreted as pleats of fabric, folds of leather or ripples along the canal. In the façade of the new buildings, materials and textures were deliberately chosen to be indicative of those found on the warehouses of the time, and therefore continue telling the story of shoe making. Brick and metal are draped over each other to create distinct layers, mirroring the traditional assembly process of a leather brogue. Sawtooth roofs mimic the design of the neighbouring Sock Island apartments, while also echoing the industrial buildings that once stood along the canalside.

“The site’s wider placemaking has sought to maximise views to local landmarks through the shaping and arrangement of buildings. The landscape moves from a formal urban edge through a central open space into a natural, biodiverse environment adjacent the canal. Well defined public spaces and pedestrian/cycle routes enable strong connectivity with the city,” concludes Ben.

Mandeep Singh, director at GS Developments adds: “It’s hugely rewarding to invest in projects that will positively change the cityscape and encourage more homeowners to put down roots here. Re-using brownfield land for housing, and bringing people and families back into the city, is extremely important to us. We believe rg+p has devised a development that will not only have widespread appeal but that also tells the history of the site with intricate detailing and a modern interpretation. Submitting this application marks an exciting milestone for the project and we are hopeful for a positive outcome.”

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