New ‘wind-tunnel’ safety measures at Leeds skyscraper

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COUNCIL bosses in Leeds are set to introduce new safety policies in an attempt to protect people from the Bridgewater Place ‘wind-tunnel’ effect.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, the skyscraper’s private owners have drawn up plans for a multi-million pound system of wind-deflecting barriers and screens at the landmark site.

However, the massive scale of CPPI Bridgewater Place Limited Partnership’s scheme means it might not be finished until the end of 2015.

Leeds City Council is therefore proposing its own set of interim measures to try to prevent any repeat of the accidents that have been caused around the building’s base by powerfully whipped-up winds.

Its proposals are in line with recommendations made by the coroner at the inquest into the death of Edward Slaney, a pedestrian who was killed after being crushed by a truck that had been blown off its wheels near Bridgewater Place in 2011. Key elements of the council’s package of safety measures include:

* Shutting the site’s Water Lane-Neville Street-Victoria Road junction to traffic when wind speeds hit 45mph, rather than 65mph as was once the case;

* Closing pedestrian crossing points at the junction in high winds, with people on foot instead being ‘channelled’ around the eastern edge of Victoria Road;

* Installing a new pedestrian shelter at an estimated cost of £125,000. Emergency vehicles will still be able to use the junction during closure periods while pedestrian access to Bridgewater Place will be maintained via its southern entrance.

A 45mph road closure ‘trigger’ has already been introduced informally ahead of the expected ratification of the policy. The council’s executive board will consider the proposals next Friday.

Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, said: “We are putting in place sensible solutions in line with the coroner’s recommendations as a temporary measure to make the Bridgewater Place junction as safe as possible until the permanent design solution is in place.

“The building is the owners’ responsibility but we have always insisted that only a comprehensive solution that protects road users as well as those in the immediate vicinity of the building is acceptable.”

* CPPI Bridgewater Place Limited Partnership’s long-term plans are on public display in the skyscraper’s atrium from 10am to 5.30pm tomorrow, Saturday, February 8.

The proposed scheme includes the installation of huge porous barriers above Water Lane and the attachment of vertical screens on the north western corner of Bridgewater Place itself.

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