Hopes for derelict Leeds railway viaduct

An artist's impression of the development. PIC: James Hardisty

An artist's impression of the development. PIC: James Hardisty

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Residents are “cautiously optimistic” that they can transform a redundant Leeds railway viaduct into a walkway despite its owner’s reservations.

Around 20 south Leeds locals have been investigating the possibility of turning Holbeck Viaduct, running from Gelderd Road to Globe Road, into a park and walkway into central Leeds.

The ambitious £10,000 community-led scheme to revive the 145-year-old landmark is a scaled down version of Leeds City Council’s £5m pre-recession plans.

Viaduct owner Network Rail (NR) says it is not aware of the project, while the structure would need investment to be made safe and could be needed for future rail expansion.

However resident Ed Carlisle, the project’s leader, claims the firm has said it is open to residents paying £1,500 in clearance and surveyance fees to see if the project would be viable.

He said: “I remain cautiously optimistic we can do something, if it isn’t doable we will knock it on the head. It could be a novelty and bring some profile to south Leeds and just in itself embody an innovative approach to community development.”

He said he will apply for funds to raise the £1,500 sum.

The idea includes installing staircases to make it accessible from Domestic Street and Holbeck Urban Village. It would be cleared by volunteers to feature flower beds, lighting and art.

Agreeing that the viaduct has “great potential”, a council spokeswoman said: “We cannot progress our ambitions further without accessing the viaduct and we have been trying to do this for some time through NR, unfortunately without success.”

An NR spokesman said any work to support economic growth in Leeds “must be balanced with the need to protect the railway to meet future growth in rail demand”.

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