A new rail connection for the White Rose Shopping Centre and office park forms part of transformational proposals to make £270million of improvements to transport in Leeds.
The announcement, along with two other new stations to be created in the city and additional rail network improvements, are the first details to be revealed ahead of an ambitious new transport strategy for Leeds being released tomorrow (Tuesday 6 December 2016).
South Leeds Life also understands that a new park and ride scheme will be built at Stourton, close to Junction 7 of the M621, as proposed in the trolleybus project.
The new strategy is in response to the findings of 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 recent survey.
The feedback has shown a desire for deliverable improvements to be made in the immediate to short term on improving public transport across the city. Trends show a need for better rail and bus services, a clear demand for additional park and ride services, congestion issues to be addressed along with improved accessibility to bring communities, businesses and jobs closer together to boost connectivity and the overall economy and productivity of Leeds.
A new airport parkway station would be built on the existing Leeds to Harrogate line, connecting to the wider rail network and serving and supporting the development of one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the UK which is used by 3.5million passengers a year and contributes £100m annually to the city region economy.
Another station is proposed at Thorpe Park to support job creation and housing growth along the East Leeds Extension. This is part of an inclusive approach helping to connect people to growth points in the Leeds economy.
The new stations would be part-funded from the £173.5million of Department of Transport funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus in May, with the funds needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021.
Support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private sector stakeholders increases the funding available to in excess of £270m for Leeds.
Together with a wide range of significant improvements proposed for other elements of transport in Leeds to be announced, the plans and new strategy have been hailed as “transformational” by the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“These plans announced today and the full proposals and strategy to be released tomorrow represent a transformational step change for public transport in Leeds. Through the transport conversation we have been given a clear message that people want improvements to be made to benefit all areas of the city as soon as possible, not in another 10 or 15 years’ time but now. I am very pleased to say that everything we are putting forward in this plan is deliverable in the short to medium term.
“Providing a connection by rail to the airport has long been an ambition for the city and this plan will deliver it in a cost-effective way, along with two other new stations at the White Rose Shopping Centre and Thorpe Park to help drive forward job creation, productivity and economic growth. These plans all fit with the Department of Transport request that we invest the £173.5million in public transport improvements before the end of 2021, and I am delighted that together with additional funding proposed by stakeholders and private partners we can now do even more to improve transport in our city and make a real difference.”
The council and its partners will continue to consider options for a mass transit scheme for Leeds, but this will require significant additional investment and would not be deliverable by 2021.
Councillor Blake added:
“Options for a mass transit scheme are still very much under consideration, but it needs to be right for the whole city and the reality is such a scheme would need a lot more investment and would take a lot longer to deliver, whereas there is a clear priority need to deliver changes now in order to get Leeds moving.”
Other improvements proposed for the rail network in Leeds would see access enhanced at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth stations and car park expansion at New Pudsey to increase its park and ride capacity. These upgrades will complement improved rail services to Leeds which will see increases in capacity through longer trains and more frequent services, especially at peak times. The outdated pacer units will also be withdrawn by 2020.
Work will also progress in the coming months on preparing the city for high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly HS3), with the masterplan for the remodelled Leeds Station being developed by a world-renowned team including Hiro Aso, the lead architect behind the acclaimed redevelopment of King’s Cross in London. The masterplan will guide the revamp of Leeds Station into a distinctive modern destination and fully integrated national transport hub along with maximising the development opportunities surrounding the station and acting as a gateway to the city centre and South Bank Leeds.
Leeds Chamber of Commerce President Gerald Jennings said:
“The Chamber has always maintained that the city needs further investment to create a fully integrated transport network, so it is pleasing to see funded proposals for additional rail halts and park and rides across the city which in turn will aid economic growth and connect businesses conveniently to the widest possible workforce.”
The new Leeds Transport Strategy has been supported and guided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the new Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster, and includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
It also forms part of the wider regional strategic economic plan which aims to deliver up to 35,000 new jobs and an additional £3.7billion of economic output by 2036.
The proposals and strategy released tomorrow will be considered by senior councillors at next week’s executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 14 December and if approved will then go to the Department of Transport for its consideration.