The East Leeds Orbital Route, the biggest infrastructure project undertaken by Leeds City Council for fifty years, since the completion of the Leeds Inner Ring Road, has now been fully completed and is open to traffic.
This new route will become the new outer ring road in northeast Leeds and is expected to ease congestion in existing residential areas across Cross Gates, Seacroft, Whitkirk and play a key role in the growth plans for the city for years to come.
The scheme provides 7km of dual carriageway and 14km of dedicated cycleways, pedestrian, and equestrian pathways, as well as specially designed access points to improve connectivity to surrounding areas. Arch bridges allow walkers and cyclists to cross over the carriageways and large, wide underpasses allow passage underneath.
The scheme includes a significant amount of green space and parkland. Once the landscaping is completed early next year, over 40,000 new shrubs and trees will have been planted. There will also be extensive areas of wildflowers to encourage biodiversity. The landscaped ponds along the route are already attracting wildlife as well as contributing to a sustainable drainage system.
The completed route provides infrastructure to match growing traffic numbers and future requirements as the East Leeds Extension stretches around the edge of Red Hall, Whinmoor, Swarcliffe and Crossgates.
The extension allows for the development of up to 5,000 new homes and supporting infrastructure and plays a key role in the Council’s ambition to deliver 52,000 new homes across the city by 2028.
The scheme has been delivered ahead of schedule and on-budget, despite the global pandemic and soaring materials costs.
Leader of the council, Councillor James Lewis, said: “The East Leeds Extension has been a major long-standing commitment to enable the sustainable growth of the city. The overall plan will create attractive new neighbourhoods integrated with surrounding local communities and provide parks and infrastructure that serve the needs of new and existing East Leeds residents.
“The new pathways and cycleways provide active travel infrastructure to better connect local communities and help make active, healthy travel options available to all as we work towards being carbon net zero by 2030.
“A big part of this project was listening carefully to the voices of local communities and stakeholders to make sure the plans for ELOR (East Leeds Orbital Route) reflect the needs and aspirations of people living around the development.
“Now open, the ELOR and the East Leeds Extension will improve connectivity, help regenerate the wider East Leeds area by boosting economic growth and bringing more jobs and homes to the area, with connected green spaces that promote active travel and healthy lifestyles.”
Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “As well as the new route allowing the ease of congestion in this part of the city, the development also delivers much needed cycle infrastructure to the area and connects existing cycling routes to the new purpose-built ones.
“Like other growing cities, Leeds faces several challenges, including adapting to climate change, linking people to services and employment, enabling people to better manage their well-being, and increasing the number of people choosing active travel and public transport.
“Sustainable and joined up infrastructure has a vital role to play in responding to these challenges. A resource-efficient and connected city will be a better, healthier place to live, more competitive and better placed to ride out future economic and climate shocks.
“I know Leeds can continue to encourage more investment into our infrastructure and economy and retain being one of the best places to live in the United Kingdom.”
Leeds City Council have worked with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to put in place the East Leeds Orbital Route. Financed through the Combined Authority’s ‘West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund’. The Fund is part of the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, a £1 billion package of government investment through The Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across the Leeds City Region.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Better transport links and connectivity provide people with greater opportunities and that is why we are investing in this across West Yorkshire.
“The East Leeds Orbital Route is an excellent example of how to reduce traffic and congestion while promoting active travel.
“I am delighted to see the new road open and ready to welcome visitors to Leeds for the bank holiday weekend.”
Stephen Semple, Area Director at Balfour Beatty, said: “After three years of hard work, we are delighted that the East Leeds Orbital Route is now open to traffic. The route will significantly improve journey times for the travelling public whilst also reducing congestion for local communities.”