Leeds councillors speak out against HS2 viaduct plans

Senior members of Leeds City Council have branded updated plans for an 8km railway viaduct into the city centre “inadequate”.

An artist impression of the viaduct.(Credit: HS2)

As part of works for a proposed HS2 line into the city, the government is currently consulting on a change which would involve a viaduct between Woodlesford and Leeds which could be up to 32 metres wide.

But councillors have agreed to respond to the Government, claiming there is currently not enough information about what what the plans would look like.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A senior council officer told the meeting: “[The changes are] driven by cost efficiency and the build-ability. The viaduct arrangement will make it much easier to cross highways and be less disruptive to an embankment arrangement.

An artist impression of the viaduct.(Credit: HS2)

“Leeds City Council has not asked HS2 to build a viaduct – it is their proposition.”

Leader of the Leeds Liberal Democrats group Coun Stewart Golton said: “We expect a high level of quality mitigation against construction in the city. HS2 say the changes are due to cost efficiency and buildability.

“This is already a sign that what they are going to deliver is a cut price version of what has already been delivered down south.”

Previous plans had the line running mainly on ground level through tunnels and embankments, as well as a short viaduct over the River Aire.

A map of the proposed HS2 route coming into Leeds. (Credit: HS2)

But, should the new plans be approved, the height of the route into Leeds would be changed, with an extra 8km of track being placed on a viaduct.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake (Lab) said: “There have been challenges from the council all the way through this.

“The real issue that we have pushed back on is that they haven’t produced the level of detail in terms of visuals about what the viaduct will look like.”

Coun Carter added: “It really isn’t the time for gratuitous ifs buts and maybes – imagine the wailing there would be if HS2 was suddenly going to Manchester and stopping there.”

The response to HS2, as drafted by Leeds City Council officers, claims the authority can’t support the proposals without more information.

It stated: “The council’s design refinement consultation response will be clear that the current visual information provided by HS2 Ltd on the viaduct proposal is inadequate.

“Without the inclusion of adequate visual information, the council is unable to comment at present if the proposals set out in the design refinement consultation are acceptable.

“To enable a meaningful consultation with stakeholders, local communities and businesses it is imperative that HS2 Ltd provide a visualisation of the viaduct alongside detailed design information on the architectural style and treatment of the proposed design. The council will press HS2 Ltd as part of our ongoing dialogue to provide this information at the earliest opportunity.”

The proposed change would see the Woodlesford tunnel shortened so that it emerges closer to Woodlesford.

The route then climbs onto a viaduct through the northern edge of Rothwell Country Park and over the M1 and Hallam line into Stourton.

It would be constructed on an embankment for 400 metres between Pontefract Road and the connection into the Rolling Stock Depot to the north of the river. The route then continues on a viaduct for 3.3km into Leeds Station crossing above the highway network, with a typical clearance of 5.7 miles from the road to the underside of the viaduct.