East Leeds Orbital Route scoops gong in Oscars of construction

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It is a route which is helping transform the lives of people across east Leeds.

The East Leeds Orbital Route (ELOR) represents the largest infrastructure project in Leeds in more than 50 years.

Now its credentials have helped it win the Transport Project of the Year at the 2023 British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA).

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After the face-to-face review by a panel of expert judges, the East Leeds Orbital Route was singled out from an exceptionally strong field. It didn’t just deliver a road, rather it delivered a valuable community asset where vehicle travel is complemented by safe, sustainable active travel and equestrian routes, as much a local amenity, as a road.

The East Leeds Orbital Route.The East Leeds Orbital Route.
The East Leeds Orbital Route.

The judges reflected on how the entire team collaborated to deliver social value for the region by not only unlocking much-needed homes but also providing opportunities for children of all ages, as well as young people to learn about the construction industry.

The team were recognised for the children’s’ books produced and distributed about engineering. Plus, the work with graduates and apprentices who have gone on to take roles in the sector, boosting the employability given to those who joined the project to gain work experience.

The judging panel noted the team had also shown their environmental credentials too – with their work on water quality, drainage and the commitment to green corridors along the active travel routes.

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The scheme also won the 'Best Large Highways & Transportation Project 2023' category, in the Yorkshire and Humber Chartered Institute of Highways Transport Awards.

Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and sustainable development, said: “We are really proud to see the East Leeds Orbital Route nationally recognised as an exemplar scheme of what can be achieved and sets the benchmark for others to follow.

“Congratulations to the project team on this success. The East Leeds Orbital Route is more than a road network, this and the East Leeds Extension improves connectivity and helps regenerate the wider East Leeds area by boosting economic growth and bringing more jobs to the area, with connected greenspaces that promote active travel and healthy lifestyles.”

Leeds City Council have worked closely with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to secure funding from a range of sources for the scheme.

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Simon Warburton, Executive Director of Transport at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “It’s great that the East Leeds Orbital Route has been recognised by industry leaders.

“This scheme is crucial, not only for improving the transport network in east Leeds but for unlocking the delivery of thousands of new homes too. It’s helping us create a brighter, better-connected region through new walking and cycling routes, safer roads, and reduced traffic congestion in the city.”

Stephen Semple, Area Director at Balfour Beatty, said: “We are delighted to have been recognised for our role in delivering the largest infrastructure project in Leeds in over fifty years – the East Leeds Orbital Route.

“It is through a wholly collaborative effort with Leeds City Council that we have been able to transform travel, connect communities and stimulate economic growth in Leeds, for generations to come.”

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Mark Weston, director of access at The British Horse Society, said: “We’re thrilled that the East Leeds Orbital Route has been recognised for this award. Leeds City Council and Balfour Beatty have worked incredibly hard to deliver a project that has been so beneficial to the equestrian community. Horse riders can enjoy the great outdoors with their well-loved companion, all in the comfort of knowing that they have access to safe crossings and bridleways. We’re very grateful to have been a part of this project.”

Belinda Smart, deputy editor of New Civil Engineer, said: “The standard across all award categories was particularly impressive this year.

“The judging process found that all entries were of a notably high calibre, with the winners standing out as setting new benchmarks in best practice. Well done to all of our 2023 winners!

“The BCIA programme not only celebrates excellence in the construction industry but enables industry peers and colleagues to share knowledge and innovation and to inspire each other. With climate change and rising costs continuing to present sectoral and societal challenges, this year’s winners demonstrate industry’s willingness and ability to rise to those challenges, with solutions that benefit the wider community.”