The national Green Party leader Natalie Bennett yesterday (30 July 2015) visited the Holbeck viaduct in the heart of Leeds – which has over the past two years become the focus of a growing community campaign to see it re-opened as a public green space, and walking and cycling route into and out of the city centre.
She also visited an associated scheme to create a mini ’urban farm’ immediately next to the viaduct, being developed by the local Grub and Grog Shop team - who run the bar and events venue at the nearby Northern Monk Brewery in Holbeck Urban Village.
The Holbeck viaduct was built in the 1880s, runs out of city centre past Holbeck towards Elland Road and Farnley, and was at the time the largest brick structure in the world and a major landmark in the city. However, it fell into disuse, and has been unused since the 1990s. Various plans to re-open it, in the mould of the acclaimed New York Highline, have been proposed since the late 1990s – leading to the latest upsurge in interest over the past two years.
Meanwhile, on Sweet Street West (immediately next to the viaduct), the team from the Grub and Grog Shop are – with the support of Leeds City Council, green charity TCV, and others – looking to develop a mini urban farm packed with fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, and more.
Natalie Bennett commented:
“These are both really inspiring projects. The urban farm scheme is a great opportunity to bring communities together around the production of healthy local food. And the viaduct has enormous potential to become a real Leeds landmark, as well as an active transport route. I look forward to seeing and hearing how they both develop.”
Ed Carlisle, a local Green Party activist who’s one of those who’s helping to lead on the viaduct project, commented: “The viaduct continues to capture the imagination of an amazing range of people. We’ve got a very long way to go, but it’s great to see people getting excited and getting involved, so I’m hopeful that together we can pull off something fantastic. It’s also fantastic seeing the emergence of this urban farm project, and we’ll be working closely with them.”
Dan Palmer from the Grub and Grog Shop commented: “We’re really excited about the urban farm project, and how it might link with the viaduct scheme – but we’re daunted too! So we’d love to hear from people, groups and businesses who want to work with us to make it happen. We’ve got the go-ahead – but it’s still really just an idea at the moment, so people will really have the opportunity to help shape it.”
Natalie Bennett was in Leeds to speak at and help present the Yorkshire Post Environment Awards.
Full info on the viaduct project visit the newly published website: www.holbeckhighline.org.uk. For live updates on the viaduct project, join the Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/190849144426363/.