23 November 2023
Sustrans advises new accessible bridge at Skelton Grange
A new accessible active travel bridge over the Aire and Calder Navigation canal is the best option to open up the Trans Pennine Trail from Leeds to Methley, according to a report by the walking, wheeling and cycling charity Sustrans.
This section of the Trail currently passes over the canal via Skelton Grange bridge, which is only accessible by a flight of steps. That prevents families with buggies or people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids (wheeling) using the path. It’s also inconvenient and unsafe for people walking or cycling.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport, shows that a new bridge which is accessible for people on foot, wheelchair or bicycle would be a major step towards a high quality, traffic-free path from Leeds city centre to Methley (11.8km).
Sustrans research shows that the bridge would encourage more people to choose active travel (walking, wheeling, cycling) and reduce traffic congestion in the area. It would also provide benefits to health, wellbeing and environment.
Mike Babbitt, Head of Network Development at Sustrans in the North said: “The Trans Pennine Trail is a well-loved route for many commuters in and out of Leeds. But Skelton Grange has been a major barrier for people using it. We’ve worked with several local partners to investigate all the options to make this route accessible for everyone.
“We can recommend that a bridge with ramps is the best way to remove this barrier and help more people use the Trail. Our research shows that this will have a significant impact in helping Leeds City Council achieve its ambitions to cut carbon emissions, reduce traffic congestion and improve health.”
Peter Carlill, Councillor for Calverley and Farsley Ward at Leeds City Council said:
"The issues at Skelton Grange Road Bridge have been a long-standing problem with no easy solution. Working alongside a range of stakeholders it’s great to see a preferred option come forward which we can all agree on.
“Many thanks to Sustrans for the work they have put in to coming up with this report, as well as all the partners that have been involved. Thanks also to Leeds Cycling Campaign who have continued to highlight the issues at this location and to work alongside us for a solution.
“At the Council we are dedicated to a version of Leeds where active travel is the best choice for getting about, so it’s important that we now continue working to make this proposal a reality, creating an accessible walking, wheeling and cycling route for all."
The Trans Pennine Trail is a popular long-distance path from Southport to Hornsea, which is part of the National Cycle Network. It is 370 miles long, with several additional spurs.
Sustrans is the custodian for the Network. It works on routes across the UK, including the Trans Pennine Trail, to help improve the quality of the Network and create accessible paths that everyone can enjoy.
Sustrans worked with Leeds City Council, Canal and Rivers Trust, Thwaite Watermill, Harworth Group, the Trans Pennine Trail office and Leeds Cycling Campaign to agree a bridge solution, which was further developed by Engineering Consultancy Services Limited, with technical input from key stakeholders.
Engineers propose a steel bridge, supported by reinforced concrete, with ramps on either side. They estimate the proposed bridge would cost around £4.7 million, with a cost-benefit ratio of 2.58 (for every £1 spent the scheme would give a benefit return of £2.58).
The North team looked at the feasibility of various options to make the Trans Pennine Trail accessible at Skelton Grange, including a ramp over the canal or river or a diversion around the site.
Leeds City Council will decide on whether to go ahead with the bridge, and to seek funding.
For more information on the Skelton Grange Feasibility Study contact EnglandNorth@sustrans.org.uk
For more information on Sustrans work to create Paths for Everyone look up: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/about-us/paths-for-everyone/
For media information, please contact: Sarah Roe, Communications officer, Sustrans (North) T: 07847 372647.
Notes to Editors:
Sustrans makes it easier for everyone to walk, wheel and cycle. We work for and with communities, helping them come to life by walking, wheeling and cycling to create healthier places and happier lives for everyone.
Across the UK we involve communities in shaping our towns and cities. Together we campaign for and create spaces where everyone can move around safely and give people the tools and confidence to get out of their cars.
We inspire people to change the way we all travel every day, forging closer connections with our neighbours and reducing traffic to create a better environment and more sustainable society for everyone.
Join us on our journey. www.sustrans.org.uk Sustrans is a registered charity no. 326550 (England and Wales), SCO39263 (Scotland).