The central Leeds street where skyscraper winds ‘pick people off the pavement’

An office worker battles the high winds near Bridgewater Place in Leeds
An office worker battles the high winds near Bridgewater Place in Leeds
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STORM-FORCE gusts of almost 70mph were recorded in a Leeds street around the time a man was killed when a lorry was blown over, it has emerged.

Pedestrian Edward Slaney, 35, was waiting to cross Neville Street opposite the Bridgewater Place skyscraper when a lorry toppled over on the afternoon of March 10.

Mr Slaney, of Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, died later.

Investigations are continuing into whether the 32-storey building contributed to a “wind tunnel” effect.

Documents released to the Yorkshire Post under the Environmental Regulations Act have revealed that gusts up to 69mph – Force 11 on the Beaufort scale – were recorded at Bridgewater Place on the afternoon of the fatal incident.

The documents also reveal a catalogue of alleged wind-related incidents and injuries since Bridgewater Place was completed in late 2007.

In February 2008 a woman needed 10 stitches to a knee injury, a torn liver, internal bleeding and burns to her chest from soup she was carrying when she was blown off her feet and into a wall, according to her solicitors.

In January that year an employee was “picked up off the pavement” by strong wind and “carried all the way across the road and deposited in the southbound carriageway of Neville Street”. She sustained severe injuries including severed facial nerves, facial numbness and distortion to her facial features, it is claimed.

Three staff from an office in Water Lane suffered injuries which needed hospital treatment, according to one complaint.

A police officer was blown from his bike near Bridgewater Place in December 2009.

A buggy with a three-month-old child was blown over while crossing the road in January this year.

Two women seen “clinging to lampposts” in high winds in February this year.

A pedestrian died and another was seriously injured when a lorry overturned in March.

Work to determine the causes of the strong winds has yet to be completed.

The council says it has obtained an agreement with the owners of Bridgewater Place to carry out further ‘wind tunnel model testing’ to identify measures to reduce the effect of strong winds.

On days when winds of 30mph or above are forecast the council will put up temporary diversion signs around Bridgewater Place. More guard rails may also be put up on Victoria Road to help pedestrians.

A council spokesman said two changes had been implemented: “Firstly, to warn of the cross wind effect at the junction of Victoria Road and Water Lane, advanced ‘wind sock’ signage has been erected. Secondly, on days when strong winds are forecast, the council will erect temporary signage to divert high sided vehicles away from the Bridgewater Place.”

Further testing is required to establish the aerodynamic conditions that existed before Bridgewater Place was constructed and to “return this area to its pre-construction state”.

A spokesman for Bridgewater Place said: “This building complied with all planning and building regulations. We are working with the council looking at these specific issues but what you need to understand is that in any particular day in question the city council will have 20 or 30 calls around Leeds where there have been problems with high winds.”