Leicester Forest East
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Leicester Forest East is a popular location among commuters and young families. It was developed primarily between 1920 and 1985, seeing major developments constructed along the Hinckley Road (A47) and to the south-east of the M1 throughout the 1930s. Large-scale housing developments took place in the 1960s, to the north-east and west of the M1 motorway. In the 1980s, a large housing project was constructed at the western edge of the settlement. The village takes its name from the ancient Leicester Forest. The streets through the housing developments to the north-east of the M1 take their names from Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell, Olympic medalists in the 1964 Tokyo games.
There are local shopping facilities at the eastern end of the community, including a newsagent, a post office, a bank, a small Co-op supermarket with a cash-dispenser, and a public library with free internet access; there are also numerous local shops along the Hinckley Road approaching the western end of the community, including a small Sainsbury's, a butcher, a hardware store, three hair salons and a petrol garage (the latter stopped serving petrol in the 1990s, continuing only as a service and MOT station until about 2013 when it closed altogether). There are two medical centres in Leicester Forest East, one at the eastern end housing a general practitioners, a pharmacy and a dentist, and another on the western end (Warren Lane) with similar facilities. There is a veterinary surgery along the Hinckley Road, next to Elliot Drive.
There are two pubs with hotels in Leicester Forest East, both on the A47. The Forest Park Inn is a recently refurbished family motel with outdoor patio seating. The other is a much older establishment called The Red Cow. Both serve food and offer accommodation.
The Parish Hall is situated on King's Drive, by the playing field/park. A new playpark was installed in early 2009. Recently the Parish Hall have played hosts to Clubszone, a local children's activity provider running in the school holidays.
There are two places of Christian worship - St Andrews, an ecumenical church with Anglican and Methodist congregations. Also behind the church there is a local Cub & Scout Troop (92nd Leicester Forest East). There is a meeting house for Jehovahs witnesses in Hinckley Road. F There is also the nearby Forest Chapel, where a playgroup and day care centre (Forest Chapel Day Care) operate.
Transport links in Leicester Forest East are excellent.
- There are bus services to Leicester, Hinckley, Nuneaton and other local destinations. Bus services are operated by Stagecoach and Arriva. There is also a park and ride service from Meynells Gorse on the eastern edge of Leicester Forest East to the city centre. The 13A bus route by Robinson's runs in the mornings into the western end of Leicester Forest East and to Kirby Muxloe.
- Leicester Forest East does not have a railway station but provision has been made for one at Meynell's Gorse. The Leicester and Swannington Railway that runs through the area is now freight-only but it carried passengers until 1964 and could do so again if Phase two of the proposed Ivanhoe Line were to go ahead. This would connect Leicester Forest East to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Coalville, Burton upon Trent and Leicester railway station.
- Road links are excellent, with the A47 bisecting the community - running to Hinckley, Birmingham and Leicester. There is good access to the A46 road where it bypasses Leicester, and from there to the M1 and M69. Congestion on the A47 particularly in the mornings, for city bound traffic, is a major issue for commuters in Leicester Forest East, and for those using this road. Equally, there is congestion on Ratby Lane in the late afternoons for traffic leaving the A46 and M1 wishing to join the A47 from this direction.
- Facilities for cyclists are improving, with cycle lanes being provided along the greater part of Hinckley Road during April 2009. The main routes to and from the city, and to major shopping areas are indirect and on busy roads. There are no secure cycle parking facilities at the local shops, the community centre or the churches.
- There is a reasonably well-maintained network of local footpaths giving pleasant walks towards Enderby, Thorpe Astley and Kirby Muxloe.
Stafford Leys Primary School opened in 1966 under the headship of Gordon Hill (who was better known as a football league referee). The school takes pupils from reception up to year 5. The current headteacher is Edward McGovern. In 2003, the Leicester Tigers star Freddie Tuilagi opened a new library building, one of the largest primary school libraries in the county. In 2006, the school achieved the National Healthy Schools Standard, for its work in educating pupils about healthy eating, exercise, emotional issues and bullying. The school has also attained the Basic Skills and Investors in People awards. In its May 2006 inspection, Ofsted assessed the school as Satisfactory, point 3 on a four point scale, saying "This is a satisfactory school, which has improved well since the last inspection, when it was judged to have serious weaknesses.". The Ofsted inspection in June 2009 assessed the school as 'Good' and identified a number of aspects which were outstanding.
Secondary education will typically continue at South Charnwood High School in Markfield.
Holmfield Primary School, on the eastern boundary of Leicester Forest East, was closed permanently by Leicestershire County Council on 16 July 2010.
Motorway service area
Most people know Leicester Forest East for the Leicester Forest East motorway service station on the M1 motorway, which opened on 14 February 1966 just over a year after the motorway reached Markfield. It was based on an Italian design used on the autostrade which is very unusual in Britain. At the time of opening it was operated by the Ross Group and featured a Terence Conran designed restaurant with a waitress silver service restaurant. There is no legal access for public vehicles to the motorway from within Leicester Forest East (although some members of the public use the slip-road which is properly reserved for service station employees and emergency vehicles as a means of getting on and off the M1).
There were plans to widen the M1 motorway, which if given the go-ahead would have transformed the stretch of the M1 that bisects Leicester Forest East from the current eight lanes to ten lanes. The current plans are to install a "traffic management" system instead, which will use the hard shoulder at busy times, controlled by overhead gantry signals. Many local residents have campaigned against both schemes. The works would result in the closure of Leicester Forest East service station, due to a planned flyover southbound link to the M69. However, even if the plans are approved, it is unlikely to happen before 2016.
Places of interest
- Co-op (supermarket) - Park Drive/Hinckley Road
- Sainsbury's Local - Hinckley Road
- Fourbuoys Newsagents - Hinckley Road (Currently closed for trading)
- The Post Office - Holmfield Avenue West
- Alliance & Leicester Building Society - Holmfield Avenue West
- GW Wragg Butchers shop - Hinckley Road
- Forest East DIY shop - Hinckley Road
- Hairdressers (Candy Heads, Charnwood Drive, Barnetts, Hinckley Road, Vanity Fair, Hinckley Road)
- Car dealership - Hinckley Road/Ratby Lane
- Premier Travel Inn at the Forest Park Inn pub - Hinckley Road
- Travelodge at the Red Cow pub - Hinckley Road (actually Kirby Muxloe parish)
- Forest House Surgery, Park Drive
- Pharmacy (Forest House Medical Centre) - Warren Lane
- Dentistry practice - Warren Lane
- Opticians - Henry Smith & Hamylton - Park Drive
- Veterinary practice - Bell, Brown & Bentley - Hinckley Road/Elliott Drive
- Public library - Holmfield Avenue West
- St Andrew's Anglican/Methodist Church - http://www.standrewslfe.org.uk/
- The Forest Chapel - Free Church (Charnwood Drive)
- Forest Chapel Daycare (Charnwood Drive)
- Leicester Forest East RFC - http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/leicesterforest
- Forest East Tae Kwon-Do club - http://foresteast-tkd.co.uk/
- Leicester Forest East Tennis Club - http://www.lfe-tennis.co.uk/
- Clubszone children's activity clubs - http://www.clubszone.co.uk/
- Stagecoach bus routes
- "Leicester Forest East, A47 Hinckley Road", Leicestershire County Council
- Give a little Whistle: The Recollections of a Remarkable Referee, by Gordon Hill & Jason Thomas, (Souvenir Press Ltd 1975), ISBN 0-285-62187-4
- "New library gets roar of approval.". Leicester Mercury. 2003-04-14.
- "A healthy school". Leicester Mercury. 2006-02-04.
- Susan Orpin Al (2006-02-04). "Stafford Leys Community Primary School - Inspection Report". Ofsted. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Postwar Leicester, Ben Beazley (Sutton Publishing 2006) p60 ISBN 0-7509-4068-9