COUNCIL bosses in Leeds are aiming to claw back tens of thousands of pounds from the owner of the city’s Bridgewater Place skyscraper following the end of the impasse over who should take responsibility for dealing with the site’s ‘wind tunnel’ problems.
Leeds City Council’s executive board agreed in February to spend up to £245,000 on design work on plans to ease the powerful winds that can whip around the base of the 32-storey building during stormy conditions.
But, and as revealed in yesterday’s Yorkshire Evening Post, the partnership that owns the skyscraper, CPPI Bridgewater Place, has now said it will foot the bill for the scheme.
A council report published yesterday afternoon has now also revealed that the local authority wants its outlay to be “reimbursed in full”. It is understood the work done to date has cost the council about £60,000.
Yesterday’s report further says that if the skyscraper’s owner fails to make good its commitment to finish off the scheme, then council bosses could seek an injunction to force its hand.
The dangers of the Bridgewater Place ‘wind tunnel’ were tragically highlighted in 2011 when pedestrian Edward Slaney, from Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, was crushed to death by a truck that was blown off its wheels close to the building.
CPPI Bridgewater Place has previously said it would take responsibility for safety measures on its own land but not on adjacent roads such as Water Lane.
Buro Happold, the design firm appointed by the council following February’s executive board meeting, has come up with a wind mitigation plan that includes the installation of barriers on a gantry above Water Lane. The other elements of the plan involve attaching large canopies and screens to Bridgewater Place itself.
Yesterday’s report says CPPI Bridgewater Place has agreed to commission Buro Happold to continue its design work, with a view to a planning application for the scheme being submitted by the end of the year.
Intensive testing of the firm’s proposals is said to have produced “very promising” results.
Coun Richard Lewis, the council’s executive member for development and the economy, yesterday hailed the breakthrough in negotiations between the authority and the owner of Leeds’s tallest building as “excellent news”.
He went on: “We have always insisted that we will not settle for anything that falls short of a complete design scheme to combat the dangers of high winds to both pedestrians and road users around Bridgewater Place.”
* A date for the conclusion of the inquest into Mr Slaney’s death has been set for Tuesday, December 3.