Drivers to be banned from Leeds City Square in £10M overhaul

Proposals to close Leeds’ City Square to general traffic and create a new public space are set to go before the public.

The plans will see City Square closed to general traffic, as well as changes to Boar Lane, King Street, Wellington Street, Aire Street, Quebec Street, and the wider road network.

The project, set to start next year, proposes to divert traffic away from the city centre, freeing up more space for public transport, walking and cycling facilities.

Leeds City Council claims it will help make the city centre a more pleasant place to live and spend time in.

A council statement said: “With less traffic this also provides the council with an opportunity to convert the square into a welcoming area for people arriving into the city and create an event space suitable for outdoor seating and hosting events.

“A further consultation will be launched later in the year which will showcase how the square itself will look.”

It is hoped the scheme will help create a new public events space in City Square.

Public consultation meetings will be held on Thursday, August 26, between 3pm-7pm; and on Saturday, September 11, from 10am-2pm in Mill Hill Chapel, City Square.

Coun Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and climate said: “I’m pleased to see the launch of this consultation and I would encourage everyone who lives in or visits Leeds to have their say on the future of City Square.

“We want to make our city centre an even better place to visit and the works around City Square are part of that.

“Being able to walk out of the train station and be greeted by a new and improved public square, rather than the current road, is something that everyone can enjoy.

“It means better space for people, rather than cars.

“Reallocating road space in favour of public transport, walking and cycling has been fantastic in other areas of the city, helping us to achieve the council’s vision of a greater connected city with more appealing and liveable public spaces.

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“This, alongside other schemes happening in the city, form part of our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030 as well as our preparation for the 2023 Year of Culture.”

Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire added: “These proposals will transform City Square into a fantastic gateway to Leeds and make it easier for people to travel in more sustainable ways, lower emissions and improve air quality, which will be key to tackling the climate emergency.”

The plans, which could cost £9.5m overall, were first released earlier this summer.

Early blueprints for the design, which Leeds-based firm Re-form dubbed ‘The Glade’, include woodland and water features, with the entire area between the Queens Hotel and Mill Hill Chapel closed to general traffic.

A council report said the site would feature a “conceptual reincarnation” of the ancient Forest of Leodis on which the city is built, as well as “informal play” for children, with platforms and rock steps to climb and jump off, as well as a water feature.

City Square was first built in 1897, alongside the old Post Office building.

The entire scheme for the revamp is expected to have a total budget of £7m-£9.5m, and it is hoped that final designs and approval can be reached by May/June 2022.

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