Leeds Bradford Airport expansion bid unveiled but better links still years away

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AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed for a major expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport – even though it could be several years before the site gets its long-awaited new link road.

Leeds City Council has announced that it is considering releasing 36.2 hectares of land in and around the privately-owned airport to help it realise its “economic potential”.

The land would be made available to the airport at market value and used for improvements such as an enlarged passenger terminal and the development of a hotel, restaurant and shops.

Efforts would also be undertaken to attract research companies with links to higher education.

A council report on the plan says the expansion of the Yeadon-based airport – which contributes more than £100m each year to the city region economy – would support international trade and create jobs.

But it also makes clear that any start of work on a proposed new road to serve the site remains some way off.

The report says “all options” for the road are still under consideration, with a full formal public consultation on the scheme yet to be carried out.

Responding to the council’s announcement, Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, yesterday said that a new road would do “very little” to keep traffic on the move around the airport.

He went on: “I remain convinced that the only practical, long-term solution would be a rail link.

“This would be a fantastic infrastructure investment that would not only help cope with the predicted increase in passenger numbers, but would also help the already congested roads in the area.”

The land release proposal will be debated at a meeting of the council’s executive board next Wednesday, July 15.

Coun Richard Lewis, the local authority’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Releasing this land in and around the airport is vital to meet the local employment needs of the area in terms of helping established businesses grow and to encourage new jobs and skills opportunities.

“Together with the planned improvements to the airport infrastructure and the transport links, these plans show the ambition of the city to work with the airport and the local communities to bring about the maximum benefits in an ambitious but sustainable way.”

A link road – which could run between the A65 and the airport – would most likely be funded as part of a £1.4bn transport improvement programme agreed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority at the end of last year. At the time, the road was listed as a scheme that the programme could deliver by 2021.

But a Department for Transport (DfT) study, also published at the end of 2014, warns that there is “concern locally over the potential environmental and quality of life impacts the link road could have, which will need to be mitigated against during the design and consultation process”.

The study described a rail link between Guiseley and Horsforth via the airport as a “longer term aspiration”.

Private equity group Bridgepoint bought the airport in 2007 from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale councils.

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