Start date finally announced for construction of wind-breaking safety scheme at Bridgewater Place in Leeds

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Construction work is finally set to start on a major safety scheme designed to combat the dangerous wind tunnel effect at Leeds city centre’s Bridgewater Place skyscraper.

The 32-storey building’s owner, CPPI Bridgewater Place Limited Partnership, today announced that property and infrastructure firm Lendlease had been appointed to build the system of barriers and screens.

Preparatory works are due to get under way in January, with what is being described as “piling activity” scheduled to begin the following month.

Water Lane, which runs alongside Bridgewater Place, will as a result be closed for around 12 weeks from early February.

The construction process as a whole, meanwhile, is expected to take up to 16 months.

Lendlease was the firm that handled the original building of Bridgewater Place, which opened in 2007.

CPPI’s Nick Sinfield said: “Since receiving planning permission in November 2014, CPPI has been working with Leeds City Council to bring the wind mitigation scheme for Bridgewater Place forward as quickly as possible.

“We underwent a complex and lengthy tendering process to find a suitable contractor for this unique project.

“It was incredibly important to us that we found the right contractor for the job and I’m pleased that work will be able to start in January.

“As the firm was involved in the original construction of the building, we feel Lendlease are best placed to take the plans forward as they know the scheme and have an understanding of the building and its history.

“The scheme has been developed to promote and improve safety for all, significantly reducing wind speeds surrounding the building.

Mr Sinfield added: “For us, it is important that such a vital scheme is delivered with minimal disruption for local people and businesses and we will continue to keep stakeholders updated as our works progress.”

The area around the base of Bridgewater Place can be gripped by the wind tunnel effect during stormy conditions.

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 in 2011.

Speaking at the conclusion of 35-year-old Mr Slaney’s inquest at the end of 2013, Deputy Coroner Melanie Williamson said: “Unless action is taken to reduce the wind effect then it is far from inconceivable that further fatalities will take place.”

Overhead gantry-style barriers – technically known as baffles – are due to be installed above Water Lane as part of the project.

A glass canopy will also be put in position at the tower’s northern elevation while a perforated metal screen will be placed to its south.

Leeds City Council has installed a reinforced glass shield on the pavement at Great Wilson Street as an interim measure to help tackle the Bridgewater Place problems.

Work was also carried out by BT Openreach earlier this year on underground cabling near the skyscraper in preparation for the start of the safety scheme’s construction.