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Leeds skyscraper owner to pay £900k over 'unacceptable' wind danger

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The owners of Bridgewater Place tower are to pay Leeds City Council £903,000 to cover the cost of measures to protect the public from dangerous winds at the skyscraper’s base

Since its completion in 2007, the 32-storey building south of Leeds station has been plagued with problems relating to a hazardous wind-tunnel effect created around the foot of the tower. 

The owner, CPPI Bridgewater Place, has now agreed to meet the costs of road closures around the tower, necessary to protect the public during high winds, as well as reimbursing the council’s expenditure on initial design solutions.

The skyscraper, designed by Aedas’s former UK arm (now AHR), has been blamed for a series of wind-related incidents and resulted in numerous complaints from the public. 

In 2011, a lorry near the tower blew over and killed pedestrian Ed Slaney. Witnesses described how the vehicle ‘floated through the air like a hot-air balloon’ in the extreme wind conditions. 

At the conclusion of the inquest into Slaney’s death, a coroner advised that roads around the foot of the 112m-high tower should be closed in high winds, until a remedy could be found.

Other reported incidents include a policeman being blown from his bike; a buggy with a three-month-old child being blown over; and a woman who needed 10 stitches to a knee injury when she was blown off her feet and into a wall. 

Richard Lewis, Leeds Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: ‘As a council we are clear that the danger posed by this building to the public is unacceptable, and we have tirelessly pushed for nothing less than the best possible solution to this situation.

‘We did not wait for the owners to act on their responsibilities but continued to put pressure on them while we set about working with leading wind experts to tackle these issues. While doing so, we also addressed the junction’s safety through installation of barriers and railings, along with closures in times of high winds.’

In 2014 the council granted planning permission for a proposed fix for the tower, drawn up by Chetwoods Architects and engineer Buro Happold on behalf of the CPPI Bridgewater Place.

The plan involves installing baffles and canopies on the tower and anti-wind structures across nearby Water Lane. But construction has yet to start on the approved remediation work.

Earlier this month, CPPI Bridgewater Place announced that preparatory works were expected to get under way in January, with the construction works scheduled to take 16 months. It also announced Lendlease as contractor for the scheme.

Nick Sinfield from CPPI acknowledged that the tendering process had been ‘complex and lengthy’.

According to Leeds Council, the agreed costs must be paid by 25 September 2019, or when the owner sells the buildings if this happens before that date.

It added that any future costs to the council would be covered by the agreement following the completion of the work, and in light of the effectiveness of the solution. 

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