Work to begin by the end of the year.
News that the Secretary of State has approved Metro's and Network Rail's plans for a new southern entrance to Leeds Rail Station has been welcomed by both organisations.
"This is excellent news for the thousands of Leeds Rail Station passengers who live or work south of the river," said Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis. "The new pedestrian entrance will open up new travel opportunities and provide a further stimulus to redevelopment and expansion of the city centre. The Secretary of State's positive decision means we can push those plans forward, with the aim of starting construction towards the end of 2013 and being open for business in early 2015."
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: "As a gateway to one of the biggest and most economically important cities outside London, Leeds station must reflect and enhance the city it serves. We expect passenger numbers using the station to rise by 16% by 2014 and by 62% by 2029. With over 100,000 people already using the station each day, meeting that growth in demand will be a significant but very welcome challenge. We are working with Metro and Leeds City Council to identify opportunities to develop Leeds station into an even better asset for the city. The proposed southern entrance is a crucial part of those plans."
Leeds Station Southern Entrance (LSSE) is a new, fully-accessible, visually-striking enclosed extension over the River Aire directly south of the station. Lifts, escalators and stairs will take passengers arriving at the new pedestrian entrance from areas south of the city such as Holbeck Urban Village to a widened footbridge, which will have customer information screens, ticket vending machines, CCTV, cycle storage facilities and a new ticket gate line above platforms 16 and 17.
To complement the scheme, the area around Little Neville Street will also be pedestrianised and landscaped and Network Rail has submitted an application for improvements to the area around Dark Neville Street.
The £17.3m scheme has secured £12.4m from the Department for Transport as well as funding from West Yorkshire’s Local Transport Plan and Leeds City Council.
A Public Inquiry, examining objections as well as support for the scheme, was held in Leeds in November and December 2012. Ordered by the Secretary of State for Transport after a review of letters of support, objections and representations about the scheme, the Public Inquiry was part of the legal process to obtain a Transport and Works Act Order so that land can be acquired and construction can start. As part of the submission for the Order, detailed plans for Leeds Station Southern Entrance and other documents were submitted and are available on Metro’s web site.
It's anticipated that approximately 20% of passengers per day travelling into Leeds from across West Yorkshire and beyond will use the new southern entrance, relieving pressure on the existing entrance and providing shorter journeys for business and leisure passengers to the south of the city centre.