In 2016, we started the conversation on transport in Leeds, as part of the Connecting Leeds vision of Transforming Our City Centre. Through this early engagement over 8,000 responses were received, informing us of the key changes people wanted like to see made, including at City Square. Since then, we have engaged local businesses and stakeholders.
Targeted consultation on the City Square scheme with residents and businesses took place in spring 2021, focusing on ensuring that the scheme does not adversely affect the operation of or access to businesses or residential properties.
Public consultation during August and September 2021 showed an overall positive reaction to our plans.
Video showcasing how journeys will look after the scheme is delivered.
Connecting Leeds is Leeds City Council’s ambition to improve travel for those who live, work in, and visit the city. We have an ambitious vision for Leeds: to create a world-class city that allows for seamless travel not just within Leeds, but regionally, nationally, and internationally. The City Square scheme will help to achieve this vision by making better use of road space, improving pedestrian and cycle routes, and promoting use of public transport.
City Square is a public square located by the Queens Hotel exit of Leeds Rail Station and is a busy thoroughfare for pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and cars. As a result, the square and the area around it is often congested, meaning drivers and bus users experience delays at peak times. This congestion also leads to poorer air quality and a less pleasant environment, with negative impacts felt by local residents, businesses, and commuters.
The scheme aims to reduce the volume of traffic in City Square, while maintaining access to key destinations via other appropriate routes. This will enable the transformation of the public space in City Square in preparation for Leeds City of Culture 2023.
The City Square improvements, as part of the City Centre Package, are being delivered by Leeds City Council in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The Combined Authority works with local councils and businesses to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from a strong economy and a modern, accessible transport network.
Proposals for City Square are complemented by a number of other planned changes to how people move to, through and around Leeds city centre. We have developed our plans for City Square with these other changes in mind, making sure they connect into each other and provide mutual benefits.
The map below gives an overview of the key schemes being brought forward in the city centre and is colour-coded to make clear which projects form part of the City Square scheme. You can download the plan by clicking here.
Map of complementary schemes in Leeds.
Improvements to roads, cycle paths, footpaths and bus routes around the square, and closure to general traffic.
Traffic management to help control construction impacts on traffic will be put in place in the city centre and Holbeck during works. Once the scheme is built, traffic management in both locations may change further to accommodate new traffic movements.
The scheme focuses on reducing traffic in City Square so road space can be reallocated to buses and interchange areas, pedestrian and cycle facilities and public space, making the city centre a more pleasant place to live and spend time in.
The scheme will support Leeds City Council and the Combined Authority’s objectives of encouraging economic growth and creating a people-first integrated transport network that reduces reliance on car ownership, encouraging active travel habits, and helping to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030.
An initial concept to improve City Square’s public realm, known as The Glade, was developed in consultation with stakeholders through a design competition and selected for further development. However, a more detailed design is yet to be produced and there is currently no funding for the delivery of a scheme.
It is therefore premature to consider design proposals at this stage for a scheme that has not been finalised and is unfunded. If funding was secured for the project in future, the council is committed to further consultation with all stakeholders on more detailed proposals.
It does not form part of Connecting Leeds's highways works currently onsite on City Square.
The City Square scheme is made up of changes to the square itself, as well as changes to adjoining streets, primarily to accommodate the changing traffic movements caused by the closure of the square to general traffic.
The map below sets out the main proposals for city square. You can download the plan by clicking here.
As part of the scheme, a new bus gate will be created on East Parade. This bus gate will only allow access to public transport, taxis and authorised vehicles.The plan below shows the bus gate in more detail, including how it complements improvements to cycling and walking facilities. You can download the plan by clicking here.
We know that the changes we are making will significantly change how pedestrians, cyclists, bus users and drivers move around the square and the city centre.
A key component of our scheme is making the city centre accessible to all users and modes of transport, with a focus on promoting travel by foot, bike, and public transport. This includes improving connectivity for onward journeys and interchange options between different forms of transport, including rail, Park & Ride and bus.
The below details some of the key changes for different kinds of journey.
Changes to some common journeys are listed below and the plan below shows alternative routes for cars driving into the city centre.
Our proposals include a number of improvements to how cyclists will travel through the city centre. This includes new segregated cycle lanes, more direct routes for cyclists and new cycle crossing facilities at Boar Lane/Bishopgate. Our proposals will also improve safety by closing City Square to general traffic.
Our proposals include a number of improvements to how pedestrians will travel through the city centre, including wider pedestrian routes that cross fewer lanes of traffic and minimising the number of roads that need to be crossed to get around the area.
Our proposals include a number of improvements to bus facilities, including new bus stops and bus gates*. We will also improve bus journey times by removing general traffic from City Square, enabling buses to flow more freely.
*A bus gate is a signposted stretch of road, along which use is restricted to public transport and (where specified) taxis and other authorised vehicles.
Our proposals include a number of changes to how drivers will travel through the city centre.
If your destination is the city centre itself, you will still be able to use your car, but you will no longer be able to pass through City Square. Our proposals focus on removing through traffic from the city centre and increasing usage of the inner ring road through the delivery of enhanced capacity at Armley Gyratory and (in partnership with Highways England) on the M621.