Senior councillors to discuss ambitious Leeds Station remodelling blueprint

Leeds Station
The planning and design remodelling work for Leeds Station is being led by world-renowned development experts Atkins, who have led a consortium of leading global design, engineering and project management consultants.

A range of principles to guide the remodelling of Leeds Station into a transport hub of international significance at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse are to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

A report to be discussed by Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 18 October proposes a set of principles to act as a blueprint of the station redevelopment masterplan. This aims to realise the potential of the station as an integrated transport hub, boosting regional connectivity and maximising the benefits of high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail services for Leeds and the wider region.

The principles set out the ambition for the station to become a key national landmark and transport interchange, as well as a pivotal regeneration and economic driver and asset for the city and region.

They have been set out by Leeds City Council working with partners including HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Transport for the North, Department for Transport and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Leeds Station is already the busiest transport hub in the north of England, and the overall aims set out for its future are for it to be: A world-class hub featuring quality architecture and design; a distinctive gateway into Leeds and the wider region; a destination station being an attractive place to visit where the South Bank meets City Square and; a connected place where national, regional, and local transport services meet and are integrated together.

Among the elements proposed in the masterplan are:
  • To create a station campus district for high-quality commercial, residential and leisure developments offering seamless access to and from the station
  • Multiple entrance points, with City Square becoming predominantly public space, New Station Street to become pedestrianised with shared public space being extended onto Bishopgate Street
  • Entrance points to and from South Bank, including creating a new pedestrian route similar in scale to Briggate connecting Temple Works and Leeds Dock
  • A new central common concourse in the station connecting HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and existing rail services, with an overbridge structure offering access to all other platforms
  • Neville Street and the Dark Arches to be transformed into retail and leisure spaces
  • A new footbridge at Bridgewater Road and improved pedestrian and cycling links across the River Aire
  • Additional rail platforms to meet increases in demand
  • Potential for a new roof to offer improve lighting across the station
  • Access for all modes of transport, multiple pick-up and drop-off points, a priority focus on disabled provision in all areas, new car parking and a new cycling hub. It also includes flexibility in planning to incorporate a future mass or rapid-transit service for Leeds

The investment levels to implement the proposals in the report would be in excess of £500million. Major investment in the station is already underway, as seen by the southern entrance which opened last year and the private investment by Bruntwood in redeveloping the Platform building next to the main station entrance.

The planning and design remodelling work for Leeds Station is being led by world-renowned development experts Atkins, who have led a consortium of leading global design, engineering and project management consultants. They include Gensler’s lead for transport and infrastructure Hiro Aso, who was the lead architect behind the acclaimed redevelopment of King’s Cross Station in London.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“Leeds Station has a vital role to play in the future of our city and the wider region, boosting connectivity and being a key driver of social and economic improvement and opportunity.

“Aside from being a fully integrated transport hub, we want it to be a distinctive, attractive place people want to be and visit, with a clear identity as a welcoming gateway to our city and beyond. As a major asset for the city, region and the north as a whole, its potential must be maximised to become a catalyst for inward investment, job creation and to generate inclusive growth for the benefit of all.”

The report also looks at how to maximise the benefits of HS2 coming to Leeds and the wider city region. It proposes looking at how to improve connectivity and transport hubs across the region, improving access to employment opportunities and helping businesses generate growth from high-speed rail.

It also proposes preparing students and offering pathways for them to jobs in construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, engineering and digital sectors which HS2 will bring. It makes a commitment to boosting numbers of women and black and minority ethnic people accessing these jobs, aims to work with disadvantaged communities to connect with jobs, and also proposes working with local universities, colleges and those looking to return to work with pathways to apprenticeships and jobs.

The arrival of HS2 offers significant regeneration potential, including at the South Bank in Leeds. As part of the development plans for the area, improvements would include better connections between South Bank and the wider city centre, with new streets, bridges and access to local communities with road alterations to remove through traffic.

It also looks to create a network of public spaces and a new city park in the South Bank, transforming the waterfront and creating a welcoming environment for residents, businesses and visitors.

Celebrating the rich identity and history of the South Bank, it also calls for investment in cultural and heritage assets to promote and enhance community cohesion, aligned to the plans should Leeds be successful in its bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

The station improvements will also provide a further boost to the economy of Leeds city centre, already the UK’s largest concentration of financial and professional services and digital jobs outside London. It will enhance the city centre’s role as a hub for innovation, supporting delivery of the plans for an innovation district, which will create a 21st century science park around the universities and Leeds General Infirmary.

The proposals for Leeds Station and the South Bank have been developed following public consultations carried out last year. The council’s executive board will now be asked for their views on the station principles and the HS2 growth strategy and to approve the proposals in both elements being developed further along with additional public and stakeholder consultation.

Leeds Station is currently used by over 100,000 passengers a day, with those numbers forecast to more than double over the next 30 years reaching a level similar to Gatwick Airport. To help bring that about in the coming years rail capacity into Leeds is to benefit from longer trains and more frequent services, resulting in a 52% increase in the number of seats in the morning peak on TransPennine Express trains and a 40% increase in the number of passengers that can be carried on Northern trains. Outdated pacer units will also be withdrawn before 2020.

In late 2015 HS2 Ltd published a report by chairman Sir David Higgins, ‘The Yorkshire Hub’, which set out the principles of the new HS2 platforms in Leeds being integrated with the existing station, and recommending that Leeds City Council work with other partners to develop more detailed proposals for the station design.

The production of the Leeds Station Masterplan proposals have been co-ordinated by the Leeds Station Board, chaired by Leeds City Council, also including Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, WYCA, TfN, DfT, and CLG, and supported by London and Continental Railways. These organisations have also been represented on a senior steering group along with the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, and Leeds BID. This senior steering group was chaired by Jeremy Westlake, the Finance Director of Network Rail.

The Atkins consortium is made up of industry specialists Atkins, Gensler, Bilfinger GVA, Faithful + Gould, Albion Economics and BAM Construction.