Clarence Dock Fixed Bridge

Leeds, UK

Dating from the 19th Century, Clarence Dock was originally constructed to transport goods to and from the centre of Leeds, particularly coal from the collieries in Wakefield and Rothwell, which was then distributed to heavy industry sites in and around the city.

In the second half of the 20th century, industrial decline and the preference to transport goods by road and rail killed off trade and left the docks derelict.

In the 1990s the redevelopment of the area began with the Royal Armouries, which in turn prompted work to begin on the rest of the docks.


As with many other brownfield sites that we have worked on, full site investigations and contamination studies were conducted. Being adjacent to the River Aire, full consideration to the location was also of paramount importance. A full site wide flood risk assessment had to be carried out with the Environment Agency and local authorities to ensure that the development could be safely developed, whilst meeting the statutory requirements.

The project also presented a heritage challenge, as a significant part of Yorkshire’s Industrial heritage, because of this we had to ensure that the integrity of the dock walls was protected.


Working with the client and using the data from our site surveys, we established the risks and then implemented a remediation strategy for the site. In conjunction with a flood prevention strategy, we included active measures to control the water levels in the dock, removing risk to ground floor and basement accommodation. This work allowed the client to fully explore the site’s potential, maximising the development area and minimising long term risk.

By studying the dock’s walls, we calculated where buildings should be located on the site, whilst still giving free access around the development. Two pedestrian bridges connect different parts of the development together and integrate the Royal Armouries into the project.


The transformation of Clarence Dock in Leeds has created a vibrant waterside community and a premier tourist destination. As the largest development of its type in the city, it has generated a resurgence of interest in the area. Buro Happold played a central role in the successful design of the multi-use buildings with their stunning (if challenging) setting, responding to the client’s needs to create an exciting place for people to live, work, and play.

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