Council proposes Bridgewater Place junction wind closure policy

Leeds City Council has reviewed its wind policy covering the Bridgewater Place junction to include further safety precautions in the light of a coroner’s recommendations.

Councillors will be asked to approve the revised conditions covering when and how the junction around Yorkshire’s highest skyscraper should be closed in the face of high winds.

It will mean that the road junction will be closed to traffic and pedestrians, with pedestrians instead being diverted to a footway to the east and protected by an extended shelter. The lower 45mph wind speed trigger for action- already in use informally- will also be confirmed.

The review was conducted after an inquest found that freak wind conditions that led to a lorry being blown onto Dr Edward Slaney had been caused by the building itself.

Assistant Coroner Melanie Williamson ruled that the council had acted appropriately in its planning and highways decisions concerning the construction of Bridgewater Place. However, she asked the council to consider more stringent restrictions on people and vehicles in the face of high winds.

Key changes in the new policy are closing the junction to all vehicles at wind speeds of 45mph (previously 65mph under the council’s existing policy); closing some pedestrian crossing points, putting the extended pedestrian shelter in place and providing alternative routes, along with extra warning signs.

Emergency vehicle access will still be allowed and the council will continue to liaise with building owners, businesses and residents along with continuing use of variable message warning signs across the city.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, Leeds City Council, 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. We look forward to the owners submitting their planning application to us.”

A report about the change in policy is going to the council’s executive board on February 14.

Measures put in place by the council at the junction in excessively windy conditions would no longer be needed once the owners have completed construction on the design solution.

*The building’s owners are hosting a public exhibition there tomorrow (Saturday February 8) from 10am-5.30pm of a proposed permanent design solution to the wind issues involving “baffles” suspended above the road, along with a building canopy and vertical screens.

Notes to editors:

For further information about the proposals for the design solution at Bridgewater Place contact Local Dialogue’s community relations team on 0800 319 6162 or by email at info@bridgewaterplace-wms.co.uk

For media enquiries please contact:

Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office, 0113- 224 3335

Email donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk