Staff and students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are set to use their creative skills to help restore two popular shopping streets in Leicester’s City Centre as part of a major heritage improvement scheme.
Leicester City Council has been awarded £1.5 million from Historic England as part of its Heritage Action Zone programme, aiming to make cities better places to live, work and more appealing for visitors.
The four-year scheme will see some of the most significant historic shopfronts and buildings in Granby Street and Church Gate, restored and redesigned with creative input from staff and students from DMU.
Example of student design work on Granby Street
Professor Christine White, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities at DMU has been asked by Leicester City Council to sit on the project board for the scheme alongside other partners from around the city and chair the Cultural Consortium.
Professor White said: “I am really proud to have been invited to chair the Cultural Consortium, this is made up of lead partners in the city who want to make a difference.
"We want to create the kind of destination people want to visit, to see Granby Street as the gateway into the city, and see students from DMU that are highly creative, engage with the city to make a difference.”
Over the next four years, staff and students will have the opportunity working with Leicester City Council to use their creative skills for building restoration, and creative events that engage with the city and its people to animate the spaces and develop a visitor destination through their ideas.
Professor White added: “DMU is involved because we are a highly creative university. Many of our students are engaged in projects with young people and the community and hopefully in the future opening some shops and businesses of their own.
“Restoring buildings is a really important part of this project and DMU has a very vibrant architecture school to help with this. We are thoroughly engaged with the council to work with business owners to see how we can restore buildings and shopfronts.
“We are also exploring the idea of non-traditional retail, pop-up shops and exhibitions and also some engagements for young design and creative entrepreneurs in the city.”
The funding will also support research into the history of the two streets and key buildings, the development of heritage skills, apprenticeships with local businesses, and initial architectural advice for property owners.
Professor White continued: “As part of the project we want people to start living in these areas of the city that are currently overlooked. We want people to be using the second floors of these buildings in the area as residence, the project aims to create more life in the area.
“We want to create a place where people feel safe and welcome in the city. I think it’s going to make a big difference to Leicester in a short space of time.
“I am really excited to see all of this develop, it really has great potential for Leicester, and the university.”
Posted on Wednesday 9th June 2021