Leeds: Transport is ‘key to boosting economy’

Artist's impression of the proposed Kirkstall Forge Station.
Artist's impression of the proposed Kirkstall Forge Station.
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Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will today visit the site of a new railway station in Leeds ahead of a key speech setting out the new Government’s vision for transport in the north.

He will inspect the site of the new Kirkstall Forge railway station, due to open in October, which is set to unlock £400 million of private investment in a residential and office development at the site off the A65.

He will later make the keynote speech at Leeds Civic Hall to around 80 northern civic leaders on how spending on transport will play a vital role in kick-starting the region’s economy.

Prime Minister David Cameron made investment in transport a central focus of his election message to northern voters, promising to fast-track high-speed rail (HS2) between Leeds and Sheffield.

In his speech, Mr McLoughlin will announce details of work on the Leeds to Sheffield section of HS2 will be unveiled in the autumn.

He will emphasise the Government’s commitment to delivering on its manifesto promises to boost and rebalance the economy to close the gap between north and south.

He points to efforts to devolve power from Whitehall through the new Transport for the North, set up to match Transport for London, to allow northern cities - among them Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester - to pool their strengths.

The Kirkstall Forge station will be six minutes from Leeds station on the route to Shipley and Bradford Forster Square. The project has received £9.5 million in funding from the Department of Transport. Around 1,000 new homes will be built on the site where there will also be significant business development.

HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins, who will also be at the event today, has already been asked to come up with plans to redevelop Leeds station to prepare for high speed rail, with a report due in October.

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