Work to start on £20m scheme to transform transport in Leeds city centre

PICS: Leeds City Council
PICS: Leeds City Council
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Work is set to start this autumn on a £20m scheme to transform traffic and travel in Leeds city centre.

From September 2019, bus services and stops in Leeds city centre will change as Connecting Leeds starts major works.

Leeds City Council's Connecting Leeds programme is set to transform transport in the city centre into world-class gateways for bus users, pedestrians and cyclists, while continuing to provide access for businesses.

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The total package of works sees £20.7million invested in schemes including; the Headrow, Westgate, Vicar Lane between The Headrow and North Street, New Briggate, Infirmary Street and Park Row, Cookridge Street and small lengths of streets linking these together.

Once complete, Vicar Lane will be two-way for buses and some general traffic, removing the bottleneck on The Headrow.

This will facilitate the closure of traffic to the lower section of New Briggate, which will provide an opportunity to further enhance the pedestrian experience.

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The plans aim to improve bus reliability, making bus use and walking a more attractive way to navigate through the city centre whilst substantially enhancing and increasing public space with more planting.

Some bus stops would relocate to more suitable areas with wider footways for passengers to wait. Bus-only restrictions would look to create more space to improve bus journey time reliability. There's strong support for reducing car dominance in the city centre, improving facilities for bus passengers and enhancing the public realm.

Starting at the end of July, the first stage on The Headrow will see the removal of the central reservation. During this time it will remain open in both directions, apart from some overnight works at junctions.

From September 1 2019, the eastbound carriageway will close and bus routes will relocate. The scheme, undertaken in stages, will be completed by autumn 2020. During construction, some bus stops will relocate to temporary stops on the diversion route.

A number of other changes to existing routes will also take place. Working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, detailed bus stop and service information for all affected bus routes will be made available at www.wymetro.com

This is part of Connecting Leeds - aiming to invest an unprecedented £270 million in Leeds' transport network.

Connecting Leeds, the long-term transport strategy for Leeds, aims to improve all aspects of transport and travel in the city and connect people to the wider Leeds City Region.

To minimise further disruptions the council plans to simultaneously install underground district heating pipes alongside Connecting Leeds works, subject to confirmation of a government grant award. The council and partners are contacting and informing all affected businesses and residents, when the work impacts on them.

Leeds City Council executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development Councillor Lisa Mulherin said: "This multi-million pound investment in one of the busiest streets in our city centre will see huge improvements around The Headrow and nearby streets. After declaring a Climate Emergency, the Connecting Leeds scheme contributes improvements to cleaner air, greater public space and reliable public transport.

"As well as creating more attractive and improved public realm, to encourage walking and cycling, the Leeds PIPES district heating works will also enable the connection of homes and businesses, to low carbon heating. These will make a positive contribution to help tackle our climate emergency.

"In the short term, while this work is undertaken, there will inevitably be some disruption. We have worked with bus operators and other partners to limit the amount of inconvenience. As we progress the scheme we will aim to keep everyone informed and provide regular updates. We envision the short term inconvenience will be well worth the long term benefits the scheme will bring to public transport, public space and clean air within the city centre."

Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Councillor Kim Groves said: "The Headrow scheme is a key part of transforming Leeds and will see huge improvements for public transport reliability, reducing delays and giving buses priority to easily get through the city centre. By improving bus reliability and punctuality, this scheme will help increase public transport use and ultimately improve local air quality.

"We are working with our partners and bus operators to keep disruption during the work to a minimum. Full details of bus services which may be affected will be made available at www.wymetro.com."