NEWS ROUNDUP: New site gives updates on upgrades
Connecting Leeds will soon start construction on several major highways’ schemes which are all part of transforming travel in the city and across the district.
Connecting Leeds construction works will begin first on the Armley Gyratory, before focusing on roads around City Square, Leeds train station and along routes linking to the city centre. This will be the first phase to create a world-class public space and arrival gateway to the city centre for train, bus users, pedestrians, and cyclists, and will eventually see City Square closed to through traffic in readiness for the Year of Culture in 2023.
These are all part of over £100 million of transformative highways works to overturn historic barriers and issues developed from the ‘Leeds Motorway City’ of the 1970’s. This created substantial ‘through traffic’ across the city centre, which has contributed to environmental issues and disconnected neighbourhoods – which can make it more difficult for people to travel on foot or cycling between different areas. Leeds City Council’s approach to re-route traffic away from the city centre on to the more appropriate Inner Ring Road and the M621 orbital route following the closure of City Square, will enable public transport, walking, cycling and public realm plans to be realised in the city.
Although still subject to programme changes, the construction timetable covers these affected areas:
- Armley Gyratory starting with off-highways, then on-highways
- Boar Lane
- Crown Point Road
- Neville Street / Meadow Road
- Bishopgate Street – works for diverting utilities
- Great Wilson Street
- Aire Street, King Street and Wellington Street
- Lady Lane
- East Parade bus gate and Calverley Street
- Bishopgate Street and Dark Neville Street
- Quebec Street
- Late summer - the final closure of vehicular access to City Square
This spring will also see works complete around the Corn Exchange gateway scheme, Leeds bus station, A647 Leeds to Bradford route, the A61 south towards Stourton, Regent Street flyover, and the extension to Temple Green park and ride. This follows schemes completed in 2021, despite the disruption of the Covid pandemic, like the UK’s first solar powered park and ride at Stourton, the Headrow Gateway scheme, Cookridge Street, Park Row, and Infirmary Street.
Over the past three years the council has made big progress in the delivery of people-first infrastructure and public spaces across the city centre. There has been around £200 million invested in improving Leeds City Centre, including the Leeds Public Transport Improvement Programme (LPTIP) Connecting Leeds works delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with major investments enabling support of the 3.5-hectare green City Park, and the delivery of the Our Spaces schemes.
The works have been delivered at the same time as one another, and at unprecedented pace to meet the deadlines of government funding. Our transport conversation findings in 2016 made it clear the public wished for improvements to be made as quickly as possible.
Last year the majority of respondents also support the council’s Connecting Leeds transport strategy and ambition - to be a city where you don’t need a car. It promotes a range of solutions intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions towards the council’s climate emergency 2030 target. This means creating better experiences that make it easier for walking and cycling, along with seeing public transport more reliable and accessible. Post-covid, this approach is considered crucial to the city’s recovery in achieving the ambitions of economic recovery, inclusive growth, health and well-being, and addressing the climate emergency.
Connecting Leeds are working hard to deliver these improvements as quickly as possible and apologise for some significant disruption to journeys over the coming months. Specific details around the schemes will be publicised well in advance, along with highways signage and targeted communications in affected areas.
In the meantime, Leeds visitors, workers and residents are being urged to plan ahead with a new website page (www.leeds.gov.uk/campaign/new-route) before travelling and to sign up for regular email updates or follow Connecting Leeds on social media.
ParkPlay, a new Sport England-backed charity, has launched in Leeds.
ParkPlay, which offers free, fun games and activities for people of all ages and abilities, has welcomed its first attendees at Brickfield Park in Hunslet, where weekly sessions will take place every Saturday morning from 10.30am.
The initiative is launching in two more Leeds locations in January, including Oak Road Recreation Ground and Lincoln Green, and is looking to expand into further parks throughout 2022; ideal for those looking to get moving in the new year and beyond with free and accessible activity sessions.
Having first started in Essex last year, ParkPlay has grown quickly throughout the country and is now in 22 locations across five counties, bringing together local people to have fun together with activities ranging from football to dodgeball, tag to frisbee. Sessions are tailored by PlayLeaders and vary from park to park, with anyone from the community welcome to attend.
ParkPlay is currently looking for people who are passionate about doing something positive for their community to take on the role of PlayLeader, which is a paid, part-time role, where individuals are responsible for leading sessions and encouraging people from the local area to take part.
ParkPlay has launched with the support of a range of local partners including Active Leeds, Leeds City Council and Elite Kids Coaching, who are assisting with the training of PlayLeaders, promotion of the sessions, and the expansion into different parks in the city.
Rick Jenner, ParkPlay CEO, said: “We are delighted to have launched ParkPlay in Leeds, with some incredible support from a range of organisations. We’re excited to get more people active and having fun in the city, including those looking to pick up positive habits in the New Year.
“We encourage those of all ages and abilities to come down to Brickfield Park, Oak Road Recreational Ground or Lincoln Green, and get involved on Saturday mornings. Our dream is to get to a place where there’s a ParkPlay within easy walking distance for everyone in Leeds. There’s still work to be done to achieve this goal but we have high hopes, so we encourage anyone who might be interested to get involved. There are hundreds of parks in Leeds, and we’d love to be in them all!”
Ryan Hudson, ex-Super League and international rugby player and director at Elite Kids Coaching, said: “Our mission at Elite Kids Coaching is to build confidence and motivation in local people to try new activities, and we now support more than 25,000 children a week in schools and have also worked with other local organisations including Wakefield Council, Rugby League Cares and the West Yorkshire Police. In addition to getting kids moving in educational environments, we want to promote a passion for keeping active outside of the school day for people of all ages, not only for children, which is where ParkPlay fits perfectly.
“We are delighted to be supporting ParkPlay by helping to train up local PlayLeaders and mentoring these role models so that they are confident in leading sessions and have the resources to bring new and exciting games to the parks each week.
“We really look forward to hopefully watching ParkPlay grow here in Leeds in 2022, and will hopefully be a key partner in its continued expansion in the coming months. I will be attending the sessions and can’t wait to get involved!”
Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for public health and active lifestyles, said: “It is really encouraging to see that this new initiative set up which will help bring communities together and help us deliver on our ambition to make Leeds a Child Friendly City.
“Getting families, friends, parents, grandparents and children moving is so important. For children, getting them involved in community physical activity projects, such as ParkPlay from a young age, is key to improving their creativity skills and boosting mental health and wellbeing. I’m looking forward to seeing how this initiative develops and hopefully it can eventually become city-wide.”
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