Images spark fresh criticism of Leeds trolleybus scheme

St Anne's Cathedral with 'fixing zone' shown in red.

St Anne's Cathedral with 'fixing zone' shown in red.

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Startling images have revealed the impact Leeds’s trolleybus scheme could have on some of the city’s most prominent buildings.

Documents issued as part of the New Generation Transport (NGT) public inquiry show frontage ‘fixing zones’ where overhead cabling might be attached to buildings if the scheme gets the green light.

Sites pictured complete with computer-generated red outlines of the fixing zones include Leeds City Museum, St Anne’s Cathedral and a section of Park Row.

Boar Lane’s Bourse site and the O2 Academy Leeds are among the other city centre buildings in the images.

They have been issued by NGT’s promoters, Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), which includes what was Metro, the county’s passenger transport authority.

The pictures have prompted criticism of the council and the WYCA from Bill McKinnon, chairman of the Friends of Woodhouse Moor group and a leading anti-trolleybus campaigner.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “If they truly valued our beautiful and historic city centre, they would have the trolleybuses running without cables, something which is entirely possible and which happens on the continent.”

Briefing papers prepared by the NGT team say fixing a cable directly to a building prevents the need for a supporting pole to be put in place and is “therefore generally less visually intrusive”. Government ministers will decide whether to give NGT the go-ahead after the public inquiry into the scheme finishes at the end of this month.

Fans of the project say it would boost local economic output by more than £175m a year.

Critics argue it represents poor value for money and would damage the environment.

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