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Leeds viaduct vision is ‘moving forward’ despite access row

Ed Carlisle, one of the organisers for the Holbeck Viaduct group.

Ed Carlisle, one of the organisers for the Holbeck Viaduct group.

HOPES to turn a historic Leeds viaduct into the ultimate symbol of the city’s capital-of-connectivity ambitions could soon be moving forward.

A renewed community-led campaign to turn Holbeck Viaduct into a ‘skywalk’ - a cycle and pedestrian park and walkway linking the inner city suburb to Leeds city centre - has been gathering pace.

Positive discussions have also started among senior councillors. And Network Rail, which owns the structure, has today revealed that it is “happy to investigate the viability of the project” with stakeholders.

However the debate so far has not been without its tensions. This week, Network Rail was accused of hampering progress, by not allowing council representatives to get on the viaduct to have a look at the site and surroundings. The delay was blamed on safety reasons, despite another small working group being allowed to visit the structure under supervision just this week.

City development and economy portfolio holder coun Richard Lewis told a recent meeting of the council’s executive board that the authority had spent 18 months trying to get onto the viaduct. “I am very disappointed because we want them to be part of this,” he said of the wider regeneration ambitions for the area.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We apologise for any confusion regarding safe access to Holbeck viaduct. A small escorted group was given permission, under carefully controlled circumstances, to access the structure. We are happy to work with stakeholders to investigate the viability of this project. Any project must be balanced with the need to protect the railway to meet future growth in rail demand.”

The viaduct, which runs 1.7km from Gelderd Road to Globe Road, has been unused for more than a third of its 145-year history. What do you think of the idea to turn the viaduct into a walkway and cycleway? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you

 

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