THE first sod has been cut to mark the official start of construction on the 20 million Eastern Gateway project. The Charnwood Borough Council-led project aims to revamp the Eastern approach to Loughborough with a new road, renovation of Loughborough Train Stations forecourt and the building of 91 new affordable homes.
Councillor Mike Preston, leader of Charnwood Borough Council, said: Im excited that work has finally begun on the Eastern Gateway project. We have waited a long time for this day.
This is a major step forward and, finally, residents will be able to see this project take shape and become a reality over the next couple of years.
A collection of local partners has worked together closely and invested funds to enable Eastern Gateway to come to fruition. These include the Borough and Leicestershire County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), Prospect Leicestershire and Network Rail.
The new affordable homes are being developed for Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) by local contractor William Davis Ltd and the company is due to commence infrastructure works for these properties imminently. The Ringway Group are contractors for the new road works.
A team from Ringway started work this week and began clearing an area off Gordon Road to prepare for the construction of the new road which will link Meadow Lane and Nottingham Road.
The new road will improve quality of life for residents in Ratcliffe Road and Burder Street which will be sealed off at one end.
The council, working closely with Ringway, will also lead the management of a project to revamp the forecourt of the train station with a new transport interchange, improved lighting and landscaping together with a future site for a hotel, retail and commercial units.
Council officers hope the whole scheme will be completed by June 2012 in time for the Olympics.
Carol Kirk, Chairperson of Sidings Park Area Residents Association, said: At last, the long talked about scheme has started. When the new road is completed and Ratcliffe Road and Burder Street are closed it will give the local residents a happier and healthier environment to live in.
Margaret Allen, director for the HCA East Midlands, said: Eastern Gateway will improve the local community by providing family-sized affordable homes, which the local authority identifies a significant need for in this area. In addition, the regeneration of a key access point will improve the aspect of the town and encourage economic growth.
Lesley Pendleton, Leicestershire County Councils cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "This project is a good example of the borough and county councils working together to secure vital investment and I'm delighted that construction is getting underway.
"By transforming derelict ground near the station and constructing a vital link road, the project will make a real difference, boosting business links and the warm welcome the town can extend to Olympic athletes, and I'm pleased we've been able to contribute 500,000 towards it."
Kevin Graham, Divisional Director of Ringway, says: We are delighted to get cracking on this project. It is an important development for Loughborough, not only improving traffic flow in and around the town, but also ensuring that the area is ready and able to cope with the effects of Loughborough being a hub for athletes in 2012.
Richard Cornes, partnerships director at William Davis, said: To finally see the start of the new link road, which is the first element of the Loughborough Eastern Gateway regeneration is extremely fulfilling for the team at William Davis.
We have been dedicated to bringing this important project to fruition since our selection as development partner by Charnwood Borough Council in 2005 and over those years we have endeavoured to ensure that the regeneration of the area continues to progress.
Allan Fisher, Assistant Director of Development & New Business for Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA), said: We are extremely happy to now move forward and deliver the planned new homes for local people in the town.
It has taken multi-agency funding to deliver this project which will provide much needed affordable housing but also regenerate this part of the town which will benefit the wider community.
The entire project has been masterminded by Charnwood Borough Council in partnership with Leicestershire County Council, Ringway Group, Nottingham Community Housing Association, Network Rail, William Davis, East Midlands Trains, The Homes and Communities Agency, East Midlands Development Agency and Prospect Leicestershire.