Leeds railway viaduct the size of Briggate could become home to park, bars and shops

The arches of the viaduct of Whitehall Road in Leeds could be turned into space for shops, cafes and bars. Picture: Google Maps

The arches of the viaduct of Whitehall Road in Leeds could be turned into space for shops, cafes and bars. Picture: Google Maps

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Ambitious plans to transform a Victorian railway viaduct the size of Leeds’s main shopping street into a public park are set to be showcased.

Under the scheme the viaduct’s arches would also provide new commercial space for shops, cafes, bars and restaurants off Whitehall Road.

It’s going to be wider than Briggate so it would be a wonderful place for people.

City Plans Panel chairman Coun James McKenna

Designed by Thomas Grainger in 1846, the old railway line goes over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and is around the same length and width of Briggate.

Around 567 apartments and units in five buildings are also planned for the neighbouring former Doncaster Monkbridge engineering site.

Developer ART PRS Leeds GP will present its pre-application proposal to a City Plans Panel meeting tomorrow from 1.30pm at Civic Hall.

Panel chairman Coun James McKenna said: “It’s quite exciting, particularly about the railway line and bringing it into use. It’s going to be wider than Briggate so it would be a wonderful place for people.”

A report by Leeds’s chief planning officer Tim Hill, which has been drafted for the meeting, reads that there would be 5,500sqm of public open space mostly within the old railway line.

And a further 3,700sqm of private communal space would be put aside for apartment residents.

Around 307 homes in three buildings of between 12 and 14 storeys would be made available for private rental.

And roughly 260 units in two other buildings, reaching up to 21 storeys, are planned for open market sale.

If agreed, work should start next summer and be completed by 2019.

Mr Hill’s report reads: “This scheme is a significant regeneration opportunity on a brownfield site.

“It also makes a significant contribution to the long term maintenance and use of the listed viaduct. It would bring with it a large number of new homes and opportunities for employment.”

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