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Location Leeds, Yorkshire and the Humber
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Keywords Cities, UK cities
Authors Phil Green
Published 2021
License CC BY-SA 4.0
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Leeds is the largest city in the county of West Yorkshire, England. Leeds is to the east of Bradford and south-west of York. The city forms the core of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, which also includes the towns of Horsforth, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, Rothwell and Wetherby.

Climate action[edit | edit source]

Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury
Commissioned by the Leeds Climate Commission in 2019, the Citizens’ Jury recruited 25 randomly selected citizens over nine sessions to answer the question ‘What should Leeds do about the emergency of climate change?’

An oversight panel of key stakeholders met to ensure the recruitment process was fair and robust and to agree which ‘commentators’ should present evidence to the jury.

The twelve strong oversight panel included representation from The City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Extinction Rebellion.

The citizens' jury commenced on 12 September 2019 and will run for a total of 30 hours over nine sessions, ending on 3 November. [1]

Environment quality[edit | edit source]


Air quality in Leeds has been declared as being "unsafe" by the World Health Organization. Neville Street, near Leeds railway station, has been measured as the most polluted outside London.

As part of plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, there are plans to create a Clean Air Zone in Leeds City Centre and parts of north Leeds, wherein drivers will be charged a daily fee for driving "older models of buses, taxis and HGVs" in these areas. The clean air zone was originally proposed in 2018 after government ordered the council to come up with ways to lower the air pollution in the city, which causes around 29,000 premature deaths in the UK. This was intended to begin in January 2020, but was delayed until summer 2020 and then September 2020 owing to delays in the availability of a government vehicle registration tool. This was further delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic until "at least" 2021, before being cancelled altogether in October 2020 due to improvements in the city's air quality.

Open spaces[edit | edit source]

Leeds has many large parks and open spaces. Roundhay Park is the largest park in the city and is one of the largest city parks in Europe. The park has more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are all owned by Leeds City Council. Other parks in the city include: Beckett Park, Bramley Fall Park, Cross Flatts Park, East End Park, Golden Acre Park, Gotts Park, the gardens and grounds of Harewood House, Horforth Hall Park, Meanwood Park, Middleton Park, Potternewton Park, Pudsey Park, Temple Newsam, Western Flatts Park and Woodhouse Moor. There are many more smaller parks and open spaces scattered around the city, which make up around 21.7% of the city's total area. A 2017 survey ranked Leeds 7th among the ten largest UK cities (by population) for the amount of green space, although published comments on the survey pointed out major inconsistencies in the city boundaries used.

As part of the South Bank regeneration project, plans are in development for Aire Park, a new 3.5 hectare city centre park located close to the former Tetley Brewery site. Planning permission for the first phase to be undertaken by Vastint UK was granted in December 2018.

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Leeds is within a green belt region that extends into the wider surrounding counties and is in place to reduce urban sprawl, prevent the settlements in the West Yorkshire conurbation from further convergence, protect the identity of outlying communities, encourage brownfield reuse, and preserve nearby countryside. This is achieved by restricting inappropriate development within the designated areas, and imposing stricter conditions on permitted building.

Over 60% of the Leeds district is green belt land and it surrounds the settlement, preventing further sprawl towards nearby communities. Larger outlying towns and villages are exempt from the green belt area. However, smaller villages, hamlets and rural areas are 'washed over' by the designation. The green belt was first adopted in 1960, and the size in the borough in 2017 amounted to some 33,970 hectares (339.7 km2; 131.2 sq mi).

A subsidiary aim of the green belt is to encourage recreation and leisure interests, with rural landscape features, greenfield areas and facilities including Temple Newsam Park and House with golf course, Rothwell Country Park, Middleton Park, Kirkstall Abbey ruins and surrounding park, Bedquilts recreation grounds, Waterloo lake, Roundhay castle and park, and Morwick, Cobble and Elmete Halls.

Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]

The Forest of Leeds was originally the Forest of Loidis in which today's city of Leeds arose. It now refers to patches of woodland throughout the metropolitan district, managed by Leeds City Council amounting to 1200 hectares. These are in 55 units of various kinds of woodlands, including those of Belle Isle, Gledhow, Golden Acre Park, Lotherton Hall, Meanwood Valley, Middleton Park, Moortown, Roundhay Park, Temple Newsam and Woodhouse Ridge, formed as a forest in 1993.

Cycling activism[edit | edit source]

Leeds Cycling Campaign started life in 1991 as the Leeds Cycling Action Group, changing its name to the Leeds Cycling Campaign in 2013. It was launched as the result of a public meeting publicised by leafleting bikes around the city. The meeting was well attended by enthusiastic cyclists and a few Leeds councillors and council officers. Although the group is primarily a campaigning organisation to improve the cycling infrastructure of Leeds and make it a leading cycle friendly city it has from the start held open meetings with guest speakers on a variety of cycling topics and a programme of social cycle rides for all abilities. Members have also been active in allied events such as National Bike Week, the national Space for Cycling, Critical Mass ride and, the Leeds inaugural Sky Ride on 7 July 2013. The Leeds Cycling Campaign is a broad and inclusive group of people that are united in their desire to make Leeds a much better place for cycling.

The Campaign also sends out a monthly e-newsletter, which usually contains a summary of all future cycling-related events, as well as an update on the Campaigns activity.

There is no integrated cycle network, nor is there a bicycle-sharing system. In 2010 Leeds Cyclepoint opened at Leeds railway station providing cycle hire by the day as well as paid secure parking for up to 300 cycles. The council provide maps showing ideal road routes for cyclists cycling maps. The Leeds Cycling Campaign works with the council and campaigns for improved cycling provision.

In late 2014 work started on City Connect, which includes a mostly segregated cycle path connecting south Leeds and Bradford, as well as resurfacing parts of the Leed-Liverpool Canal shared use tow path. The project has been controversial due to the poorly laid surface by the contractor, Kier, as well as safety concerns surrounding the junctions where motorised traffic comes into contact with the segregated facility.

Before the 2014 Tour de France the number of publicly available bike lock-up rack has been increased, which includes high capacity racks in the shapes of cars.

Health and wellbeing[edit | edit source]

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle[edit | edit source]

Sustainable transport activism[edit | edit source]

The Leeds Country Way is a waymarked circular walk of 62 miles (100 km) through the rural outskirts of the city, never more than 7 miles (11 km) from City Square. The Meanwood Valley Trail leads from Woodhouse Moor along Meanwood Beck to Golden Acre Park. The Leeds extension of the Dales Way follows the Meanwood Valley Trail before it branches off to head towards Ilkley and Windermere. Leeds is on the northern section of the Trans Pennine Trail for walkers and cyclists, and the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is another popular walking and cycling route. The White Rose Way walking trail to Scarborough begins at City Square. In addition, there are many parks and public footpaths in both the urban and rural parts of Leeds, and The Ramblers' Association, YHA and other walking organisations offer sociable walks. The Ramblers' Association publish various booklets of walks in and around Leeds.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a canal in Northern England, linking the cities of Leeds and Liverpool.

Over a distance of 127 miles (204 km), it crosses the Pennines, and includes 91 locks on the main line. It has several small branches, and in the early 21st century a new link was constructed into the Liverpool docks system.

Urban sustainability[edit | edit source]

Car Free Leeds: An Introduction
Author: Possible, Mar 15, 2021

Resources[edit | edit source]

Networks and sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]

Community resources[edit | edit source]

Holbeck Viaduct Project[edit | edit source]

The Holbeck Viaduct Project is a community project to bring the Holbeck Viaduct in Leeds, England, back into public use. The project is supported by a community group of the same name.

The Holbeck Viaduct (also known as the Farnley Viaduct) spans 92 archways and 1.1 miles (1.7 km). It runs from Leeds railway station, via Holbeck Urban Village and Old Holbeck, passes near Elland Road Stadium and ends onto wasteland in Wortley.

The viaduct was built in 1882 for the London and North Western Railway during the Industrial Revolution. It has been described as a feat of Victorian engineering, and provided a vital transport link into the booming city centre, which by the turn of the 20th century had developed into an important centre for the production of woollen cloth (See History of Leeds). The viaduct largely fell out of use in the 1960s following Leeds City Station modernisation, and the last scheduled train to pass over the viaduct did so on 11 October 1987.

A number of uses for the viaduct have been suggested, including a community garden, green walkway, arts space, park, cycle path, events hub, public allotment, café, music venue, viewing platform, local landmark or other community-focused project.

The Holbeck Viaduct Project community group envisages that the viaduct will open in 2023. The proposed timeline for the development is:

  • 2016–2017: Pre-feasibility scoping report
  • 2017–2018: Detailed feasibility and stakeholder engagement
  • 2018–2020: Fundraising and securing land and planning
  • 2021–2023: Constructing, planting and opening.

The project is happening at the same time as the South Bank Leeds regeneration, which has the aim of doubling the size of Leeds city centre.

The community group supporting the project seeks to develop the project in a highly participatory manner, drawing on the time, skills and resources of a wide range of people and organisations. The group has a website and mailing list, and is represented on Twitter and Facebook. The group is seeking new volunteers and supporters to support their community-based proposals, including detailed feasibility study to underpin future fundraising.

The project has previously been referred to as the Holbeck High Line, echoing the High Line in New York. However, the name Holbeck Viaduct Project reflects a wider range of options and a desire to create an affordable project which truly reflects Leeds and its local communities.

The Holbeck Viaduct Project is not to be confused with the nearby Monk Bridge Viaduct development, in nearby Whitehall Road, which will see a separate viaduct turned into a sky park, alongside bars, restaurants and apartments.

News and comment[edit | edit source]


Soil and soul: ‘Leeds is the perfect combination of rural and urban’, Oct 28 [2]


How to create happy communities through co-housing, November 21 [3]

Leeds city council's radical step to give more power to the people, June 30 [4]

Events[edit | edit source]


Oct 10 - 16 Leeds Festival Of Kindness, Compassion & Wellbeing The Kindness Revolution at #KinderLeeds

Ecovillages[edit | edit source]

Campaigns[edit | edit source]

  • Tidal campaigning group that works to support, coordinate and grow global activism in Leeds


External links[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia: Yorkshire and the Humber

References[edit | edit source]