Senior councillors approve new car free public realm in heart of the city: appendix1-publicrealm-242470.jpg

19 Sep 2019

Senior councillors approve new car free public realm in heart of the city

Clean air/air quality Climate change Transport

Senior councillors in Leeds have agreed to a flagship £1.7 million Cookridge Street scheme to transform a city centre road into a permanent public open space at yesterday’s Executive Board meeting.

Since the launch of ‘Our Spaces Strategy’ this is one of the largest areas of public realm set to be delivered by the Council. As part of the Connecting Leeds Headrow Gateway scheme, the city has the opportunity to create a new permanent public space in the city centre from the Headrow to St. Anne’s Street.

During the summer months, since 2016, Cookridge Street has been the successful home to the ‘pop-up park’, which is well received by the general public and more so by children and families.

The Cookridge Street design is based on principles for a public space offering seating, tree planting, rain gardens, incidental play, cycling and street cafes for everyone to enjoy.

The proposals for Cookridge Street show:

  • Five raised green landscaped areas with tree, shrub planting and grassed lawns;

  • Timber faced seating areas, new lighting and rain garden to aid surface water;

  • New paving in keeping with the proposed works on the Headrow;

  • A new two-way cycle route running north-south through to Park Row and City Square;

  • A new drop-off point and opportunities for external café/seating space being created, by the Radisson Blu Hotel.

The permanent closure of Cookridge Street will contribute to a reduction in emissions in this area of the city centre and a related improvement in air quality.

Also as part of ‘Our Spaces Strategy’ recent examples of works to create new and improved existing public realm include Quarry Hill (Playhouse Gardens), a new under 5’s play area at Queen Square and Clay Pit Lane (Woodhouse Gardens).

As the construction takes place, Cookridge Street will close permanently for all vehicle traffic in autumn 2020, with the works complete by March 2021.

Leeds City Council executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development Councillor Lisa Mulherin said:

“Cookridge Street is one of our flagship and largest transformational ‘Our Spaces’ schemes. After the successful pop-up park over the last three summers, we’re going to make this permanent and create a new city centre car free public space. It will show ‘Our Spaces’ are places that are welcoming, accessible and well connected, to be used and enjoyed by everyone. By becoming vehicle free, we are supporting a healthier, livable and greener city, which is what people want in the 21st Century.

“The new Cookridge Street public realm will provide opportunities for people to be active, play and rest – with cleaner air quality. And for communities to come together and meet, ultimately making the cultural offer of the city more attractive for our residents, visitors, and businesses.”

Further information

The vision set out for Connecting Leeds is to deliver a transformational step change in the transport network and connectivity in Leeds and the wider region. It’s aiming to help and support bringing people, places, jobs, learning and leisure closer together. This will be achieved through improvements to road, rail, bus, park and ride, cycling and walking services and infrastructure, reducing congestion and improving air quality and accessibility in Leeds along with utilising the latest technology innovations.

It has been developed from the feedback received in the biggest-ever transport conversation held with residents, businesses, stakeholders and visitors in the city which included more than 8,000 people taking part in a survey in 2016.

For more information go to or @ConnectingLeeds on twitter or through Leeds City Council’s Facebook page.

For more information about how the Cookridge Street transformation fits into the Leeds Our Spaces strategy visit

For media enquiries please contact:

Adrian Capon

Leeds City Council communications and marketing

T: 0113 378 1622


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team