Thorpe Park Leeds

One of the most complicated private road projects in the UK, Thorpe Park has been generating new jobs and now homes for Leeds since 1993, with much more to come.

This mixed-use, high quality business and retail park, extends over 156 acres and accommodates 2 million square feet of B1 office space. It looks to generate more than 13,000 jobs and unlock the construction of 7,000 new homes around the area.

Early Work

Approximately 10 years ago, early phases of the Thorpe Park developments were completed. Phase 1 of the project involved building a dual carriageway with a connecting roundabout, while Phase 2 saw further development of the highway. Additionally, Phase 3 dealt with modifications to the M1 link road (the elongated junction), and Phase 4 involved building a roundabout to connect Phases 2 and 3. Within this roundabout, a path was created centrally through its oval shape to allow vehicles that want to turn right to drive through the middle of the island instead of going all the way round, saving them and others time.  Due to its close resemblance, this roundabout has been nicknamed the cracked egg.

Lastly, Phase 5 saw the formation of road extensions to allow access to all development areas within this stage. Fortunately, every phase of the project was future proofed to enable the later development of a wider area, and this is now delivering new opportunities for Leeds.

Present-day Scheme

After multiple changes within the master-planning to reflect changing business demand and employee expectations, the introduction of Legal and General as joint clients - two hotels, eateries and a medical centre have been introduced within the park. This has led to the commencing of a major final phase.

Pell Frischmann have been commissioned to create an 800-metre dual carriage-way to reduce congestion within neighbouring roads, two roundabouts to aid consistency of traffic flow, signal junctions to coordinate traffic, and a new road over rail bridge to enable greater access, and a green bridge.  

The green bridge is an innovative 15-metre-wide non-motorised crossing used to carry horses, cyclist, and pedestrians. This construction will promote non-motorised community use of open spaces and support natural movement of wildlife. Where soft substances are normally removed from bridges to stop the penetration of water affecting the integrity of the steel, the green bridge on the other hand, will have vegetation growing through it to promote its environmental perspective.  Pell Frischmann’s robust capabilities within the Highways & Transportation sector ensures that the bridge is both structurally and visually pleasing.

As the project continues, many challenges have been faced. The 450mil high service gas main cutting across the site is one problem that has led to design adaptations and steady collaboration with northern gas networks to find the best solution for all stakeholders. Likewise, with a 33,000-volt electric overhead cable also running through the site, we have avoided causing any disturbance by building the road to that accommodate the electric cable.

The presence of archaeology and historical landmarks such as a WW1 ammunition factory also required liaison with both archaeologist and government agencies to ensure the protection of important heritage sites.

The key to our success was communication, openness and the involvement of stakeholders at each stage 

Furthermore, the protection of ecology was also demonstrated by building a temporary Great Crested Newt sanctuary a year in advance to allow the habitat to sufficiently grow and be cordoned off in preparation for future construction. Our strong capability in effective future planning has enabled Pell Frischmann to proficiently prepare for the expected and unexpected.

Pell Frischmann’s Wakefield Technical Director, Paul Middleton states how the “constant changing markets, such as a large supermarket wanting to be involved within the scheme and pulling out last minute meant a complete change in the masterplan, with the developers needing to go out and find other prospects. Everything that happens creates a form of a domino effect, impacting the highways, gas main, archaeology etc. it has been our duty to ensure that the road infrastructure facilitates all such eventualities and can be adapted in future.

“The problems on this site were related more to the general co-ordination of so many parties with potentially differing agendas. We established a series of live masterplan drawings that we kept constantly updated with input from other members of the design team. The key to our success was communication, openness and the involvement of stakeholders at each stage”

One example is the significant material needed to raise the ground level for the road as it reached a vital proposed access bridge over the adjacent railway. Community concerns were high regarding the impact on local roads due to the large numbers of lorries. To address this, Pell Frischmann surveyed the site land and identified 100,000 cubic metres of material to raise the road as needed without importing from beyond the development area. Ongoing discussions with Network Rail about the bridge also saw us separate the bridge into a self-contained contract and programme to mitigate any risk involved to commercial development or rail operations.

Key points

  • icon-arrow Will accommodate 2 million square feet of B1 office space.
  • icon-arrow Looks to generate more than 13,000 jobs.
  • icon-arrow Will offer 7,000 new homes around the area.

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