Leeds city centre gales death probe

CRUSHED: The  lorry that was blown over opposite Bridgewater Place.
CRUSHED: The lorry that was blown over opposite Bridgewater Place.
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COUNCIL bosses today vowed to urgently investigate a wind-ravaged city centre spot where a man died after a lorry toppled onto him in blustery weather.

And they have confirmed they remain in discussions with the owners of the city’s landmark Bridgewater Place building over a ‘wind tunnel’ and ‘vortex’ effect which some believe may have contributed to the tragedy.

Bridgewater Place' 'Business grid

Bridgewater Place' 'Business grid

The 35-year old pedestrian – as yet unnamed – was crushed by the lorry as it toppled over on Neville Street as 60mph winds hit the region on Thursday afternoon.

A 22-year-old woman who was seriously injured yesterday remained in a serious condition.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: “Following [Thursday’s] tragic accident, I would like to offer the family my sincerest condolences.

“As part of the original planning application, a wind assessment was carried out on behalf of the developer and this indicated that the impact the building would have on wind speed would be minimal. However, since the building was completed, there have been unforeseen wind-effect issues around it.

“The developers and architects have been working with us to resolve this since the extent of the problems became known to us.

“The council has acted to make the area safer for pedestrians during high winds, installing extensive lengths of railings along the footpaths in the area.

“The developers and architects are undertaking work with an international wind-engineering consultancy who have carried out wind-tunnel testing, computer simulations and technical analysis which is enabling us to identify the most effective solution available to resolve the ongoing issues. This highly complex work is still in progress.

“Thursday was a particularly difficult day with a number of significant incidents across the region caused by high winds.

“Following the tragedy, however, we are looking urgently at other ways of making the area safer.”

A spokesman for building owners and original developers, Bridgewater Place Ltd, said: “All building and planning regulations were fully adhered to in the development of Bridgewater Place.

“As part of the requirements for obtaining planning permission, Leeds City Council specifically requested that a comprehensive wind-tunnel analysis was conducted to assess the effect of the building on the surrounding area.”

Construction of Leeds’s tallest building – dubbed the ‘Dalek’ – was beset with delays caused by bad weather.

Thirteen-foot-high windbreaks have been considered in the past as a potential solution to the “vortexes” which make it difficult to use its northern entrance in strong winds.