Preserving Industrial Heritage & Kickstarting Regeneration in Leicester
Countryside’s approach to placemaking is focused on creating new communities that complement the surrounding landscape and we believe that to build for the future we must respect the past.
Our commitment to preserving a site’s heritage can be seen at Wolsey Island, a brand-new residential development where work was initially undertaken by Westleigh and was completed by Countryside following our acquisition of Westleigh in 2018. Blending both old and new, Wolsey Island boasts brand-new high-quality homes with industrial features retained - a nod to the heritage of the former Wolsey Works textile factory, which once occupied the site.
Following the Wolsey Works factory closure in 2004, the site became derelict and was designated as a strategic regeneration area. Redevelopment was envisaged through an SPD policy; with the site identified by both the City Mayor and Leicester City Council as a catalyst to kickstart further regeneration along the waterside. Since completion, two planning applications have been submitted for two adjoining land parcels, one of which has been approved with building work starting in 2020.
A true partnership development, Wolsey Island was delivered through a joint venture between Countryside and Midland Heart. A masterplan was prepared by rg+p to include 95 one and two-bedroom apartments as well as 93 two, three and four bedroom homes supported by visually dynamic design to complement the unique peninsula position with outlooks to the River Soar and Grand Union Canal.
Wolsey Island was designed in three character zones to offer a cohesive sense of place and space;
- Canalside – three storey homes drawing inspiration from industrial mills and featuring red brick, grey cladding and an articulated roof line
- Riverside – contemporary two storey properties with buff brick to complement the green and leafy river corridor
- Boulevard – two and three storey properties with formal frontages, distinctive fenestration and coloured front doors. This single carriageway forms the main street through the development and is further defined by landscaping, pedestrian and cycle paths, all of which create natural circulation and surveillance.
Formerly the site of Wolsey Works textile factory, the new Wolsey Island development includes the retention of iconic industrial features, including a 35m brick chimney and 19m Victorian water tower, which was converted into one exceptional riverside home. The overall design echoes the site’s industrial heritage while adopting a contemporary aesthetic. Complementing the homes is a central open space featuring a tree lined boulevard, new bridges across the river and canal to encourage greater connectivity with the city, improved access to canal towpaths and communal car parking.
Hailed as a thriving and fully inclusive new neighbourhood by Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, Wolsey Island offers an attractive and diverse environment for residents, providing a combination of homes for private rent and open market sale with 64% of the development available for shared ownership and affordable rent with Midland Heart.