Plans have been drawn up to deal with the strong winds generated by the Bridgewater Place tower block and the subsequent road closures that have blocked the city centre off from South Leeds.
Victoria Road, one the main routes into the city centre from the south was closed again last Wednesday (12 February 2014). According to the Yorkshire Evening Post the four closures since December have cost the Council up to £3,000 each. They have also caused major travel delays for traffic going into the city centre from Dewsbury Road and the motorways, with knock on consequences for other routes.
Bridgewater Place, aka ‘The Dalek’, has become notorious for the strong winds it generates at ground level. Westerly winds flow down the building to ground level and swirl round the Water Lane junction with Victoria Road and Neville Street. In 2011 a pedestrian, Edward Slaney, was killed when a lorry was overturned by strong winds.
Following the Coroner’s recommendations, Leeds City Council has a policy of closing the road during spells of strong winds. The original policy was to shut the road when winds of 65 mph were forecast, but that has been dropped to 45 mph.
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 long-term solution was exhibited recently at Bridgewater Place. The scheme involves four huge baffles being put up across Water Lane, together with vertical screens and a glass canopy to protect pedestrians close to the building. CPPI, who own Bridgewater Place, is to apply for planning permission for the scheme shortly. If approved, work could start later this year with the project completed by the end of 2015. You can find full details of the scheme and comment on the proposals at: www.bridgewaterplace-wms.co.uk.
In the meantime we can expect further road closures. Have you been affected by the winds at Bridgewater Place, or by the road closures? Tell us what you think should be done in the comments section below.