International Open Ideas Competition

Architects and Landscape Architects were invited to take part in an ideas competition which sought ideas for the future use of Soar Island, located in the middle of the River Soar in Leicester.


the competition is now closed.


Leicester is a large city in the East Midlands with a population of 329,900. The City is home to two universities-University of Leicester and De Montfort University, as well as several top-flight sporting teams-Leicester City Football Club (Barclays Premier League), Leicester Tigers (Rugby Union. Aviva Premiership), Leicester Riders (British Basketball League) and Leicestershire County Cricket (Club LV= County Championship, Division Two). With East Midlands Airport in the county, and just over one hour to London and 4hrs to Paris (Eurostar) by rail, the city is well located. Leicestershire is home to several large employers such as Next, Santander, HSBC Merchant Services, MIRA, 3M, Pepsi Co (Walkers Crisps), Walmart Distribution and Triumph Motorcycles.

Over the last few years, more than £1 billion has helped transform the city, with significant investment in Leicester's retail and leisure offer, its public realm, the Cultural Quarter, and the city's universities.


Leicester Waterside comprises around 60 hectares (c.148 acres) of land between the River Soar and Leicester City Centre along the corridor of the A50. It is a gateway to Leicester City Centre and has significant potential for economic and physical transformation to create a high quality residential-led mixed-use neighbourhood which connects the city centre to the waterfront. The overall area will provide strategically significant housing numbers towards the city's housing targets.

Soar Island

This architectural competition focuses on one site within Waterside-a unique piece of land which is expected to be brought forward in one of the first phases of Waterside development. Soar Island is, as the name suggests, an island within the River Soar and Grand Union Canal. Rally Park-an area of recently improved open space sits immediately to the west across the water. Connected with a network of bridges-both vehicle and footbridges, the site is just 10 minutes' walk from the city centre. At 2.15 acres (0.87 ha) the site is currently a mixture of industrial works, open space and woodland, but Leicester City Council believe it offers unrealised potential in the form of a mixed-use (housing, commercial, community or leisure) that includes high quality open space and public realm and, enables public access to the island. It requires a special approach with a design that enhances the contribution Soar Island makes to the biodiversity of the area. Soar Island is at one of the most interesting parts of the river. It needs to include a use which creates an attractive destination that draws people to it, where they can enjoy being by the river. It is a distinctive and highly visible site and is well connected.

The competition is being launched to raise the profile of Leicester Waterside ahead of major regeneration in the area. It is important to note that Leicester City Council is unlikely to be the developer of the site, instead; the outcome of this competition will provide a guide for the future use of the site. Whilst the Council is already a significant land owner in the area and has acquired a number of sites to help facilitate large-scale development, it is currently considering options for its role in bringing forward development. The council will be preparing an outline planning application for submission in July 2015. The outline application will include this site and the competition's winning entry may be used to inform the final content of this application masterplan. The winner will be guaranteed publicity as part of the final announcement however; it will be at the discretion of the 'developer' as to whether they chose to take forward the winning design through to development.

The Council invites registered Architects and Landscape Architects to submit concept designs of innovative and inspiring suggestions, through this competition, on the island's future use, which offers realistic propositions that would interest the market.

Competition Details

The competition is being run in 2 stages. The closing date for stage 1 submissions is: 17 March 2015. Entries will be judged anonymously, with 5 entries being invited to submit enhanced proposals for Stage 2. Competition winners are expected to be announced w/c 8 June 2015. See competition conditions for further details.

Competition Contact

The competition is being administered by RIBA Competitions, to whom any enquiries relating to the general conditions of this competition should be addressed.

    0113 203 1490

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