Revitalised city viaduct to be accessible again for first time in 40 years

Construction has started to revitalise a Leeds landmark, turning it into a community facility and improving connectivity into the city centre.

The project at Wellington Place in the west end of Leeds will see access returned to the historic Monk Bridge viaduct for the first time in 40 years.

The formerly disused rail track will be transformed with a lift and stairs along the existing wall of the viaduct, which will provide public access to the top and create Yorkshire’s first “elevated urban park.”

In order to further enhance green city connectivity a new path will be created, enabling people to walk or cycle directly from the viaduct into the heart of the Wellington Place neighbourhood and beyond.

The completed project will connect the Monk Bridge viaduct to the new waterside development named The Junction, comprising 665 apartments across five blocks, which are currently being developed by Highline Investments.

There are also plans to revitalise the arches with music, shopping, food and drink.

Grade two-listed Monk Bridge viaduct was built around 1846 as part of the new railway network being constructed in the Wellington Street area of Leeds.

It became an important part of Leeds Central Station which was completed in 1857, carrying high level lines to the station and connecting to a lifting tower which still stands on the Wellington Place development today.

The viaduct fell out of use when Central Station closed in 1967, and it was partially demolished and blocked off after the 1980s.

Miles Jones, development manager at MEPC, the developer and asset manager behind Wellington Place, said: “The new Viaduct Link is set to create access to one of Leeds’s most exciting new areas of public realm, and we are proud to be playing our part in bringing this important piece of history back to life for the people of Leeds.

“Working with Highline Investments, Leeds City Council and others, we are enhancing public connectivity through the city centre from areas including Armley and Wortley, by creating a greener way for people to travel into the city.”

The Wellington Place project, led by Wates Construction, and the viaduct walkway being created by Highline Investments are both set to be completed in the autumn.

Lydia McGuiness is overseeing the project on behalf of Wates Construction and forms part of an all-female project management team working on the viaduct link. She said: “We have a wealth of experience working with listed structures at Wates – they are always a challenge, but never unfulfilling.

“The Monk Bridge viaduct blends old and new design to make the best, most interesting space for the public, opening Wellington Place up to more people and connecting it seamlessly with the rest of the city.”

Neil McGinty, UK development director at Highline Investments, added: “Connectivity to the city centre on foot is a priority and residents and local businesses at The Junction (formerly Monk Bridge) will be one of the most connected in the city centre, thanks in no small part to the vision that is being realised on Wellington Place.”