Leeds council bosses have signed an indemnity agreement which will protect the authority against any compensation claims relating to a notorious ‘wind tunnel’ effect at the city’s tallest skyscraper.
A meeting of the council’s executive board was told last night that officers had spent many hours hammering out an agreement with the building’s owners, which approves the installation of a set of ‘baffles’ at the city centre junction.
And the panel heard that the agreement is also “an indemnity in favour of the council for any claims, except in circumstances where we acted in a negligent way”.
Martin Farrington, the council’s director of city development, told colleagues: “In terms of indemnity, the nuisance at Bridgewater Place is the owner’s responsibility, but they can only do it by installing baffles on the public highway. What this agreement is doing is allowing us to help them [solve] their problem.”
He acknowledged that lessons have been learned by the council about the quality of wind mitigation studies carried out BEFORE new buildings are approved in the future.
“Today we would not just accept a wind study test from a developer’s consultants, we would also procure our own test to ensure we are satisfied that the appropriate wind mitigation has taken place,” he said.
The ongoing stormy weather problems at Bridgewater Place have led to years of intermittent disruptions, with traffic in the city centre grinding to a halt every time the junction has to be closed.
Matters came to a head in 2011 when 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.
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The message has got over to the public loud and clear that the owners of the building are responsible, and that is accepted going forward.
“It was a tragic situation that unfolded, and [ongoing problems have] led to significant disruption to the city. It is pleasing to see that preparatory work is started and we are looking forward to the baffles being put in place.”