Leeds trolleybus scheme: Fears over north-south divide

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Be fair to the communities south of the river when finalising the Trolleybus scheme, urged community leaders.

While residents, councillors and officers have been working out ways to best progress with the New Generation Transport (NGT) scheme in the north, there were concerns raised yesterday that its neighbours to the south could be overlooked.

At a meeting of the city plans panel, Councillor Jim McKenna (Lab, Armley) said: “We have very high standards in Headingley and we have heard very very little about what’s happening [in Hunslet and Belle Isle].

“It’s incumbent that we make sure we don’t get a second class scheme here; that it improves the area.”

Coun McKenna took the example of trees, pointing out that while many are having to be ripped out to make way for the Trolleybus, overall they will be replaced fourfold.

He urged officers to be “balanced” when it came to the planting of 1,500 replacement trees along the route.

Ian Liptrot, representing Belle Isle, said that the scheme to the south was “ill-conceived”.

He said few NGT stops were planned for the south when there were dozens planned for the city centre and north.

Mr Liptrot said: “There are three NGT stops between Belle Isle Circus and the Corn Exchange – spaced nearly half a mile apart – but 15 normal bus stops.” And he voiced concerns that compulsory purchase orders would be used to clear some areas.

On the other hand councillor McKenna said having 900 park and ride spaces planned for Bodington in the north did not seem like a good “trade off’ compared to the 2,250 planned for Stourton in the south. He said: “It’s not a great deal when considering all the people from north Leeds.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A MAP OF THE PROPOSED LEEDS TROLLEYBUS SCHEME

YOUR ROUTE GUIDE

Holt Park to Bodington

1. The most northerly stop of the proposed Leeds Trolleybus route is at Holt Park. Locals want assurances the estate’s shopping centre car park will not be turned into an unofficial park and ride by tram users.

An official park and ride site with 900 spaces will be located on University of Leeds playing fields at the former Bodington halls of residence, off Otley Road. Pitches would be relocated or replaced.

Parking permits could be used in Holt Park if needed.

2.Lawnswood to West Park

Significant number of trees will be felled along the A660, but there will be a net gain of 150 when replanted.

Current designs take the Trolleybus through the centre of Lawnswood roundabout, so new signals will be fitted at all four exits.

Overhead electric tram cabling will damage the character of the length of the A660 corridor, say critics.

Concerns were raised over safety of Lawnswood School children as pavements there will be shared with cyclists.

3. To Shaw Lane

Weetwood Lane could be closed to through traffic under the scheme, creating a new ‘plaza’ outside The Three Horseshoes pub on Otley Road in Far Headingley.

The A660 at this point will be widened to five lanes for two bus lanes, two general traffic lanes and one turning lane for St Chad’s Road.

Two trees will be saved at the junction of St Anne’s Road – by Sukhothai restaurant.

New signals are proposed for the Churchwood Av, Glen Road and Otley Road junction.

4. To Hyde Park Corner

A new bypass is proposed from Alma Road in Headingley to Headingley Hill at Hyde Park - avoiding a congested stretch of the A660.

Only the Trolleybus, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to use the bypass.

The route is to be lit overnight, but lighting is to be kept to a minimum to protect local ecology such as bat life.

Between Headingley Hill and Hyde Park Corner, a part of the A660 would need to be widened; and several non-listed buildings demolished.

5. To Clarendon Road

At Hyde Park it is proposed to take the Trolleybus across Monument Moor, between Rampart Road and Raglan Road, to avoid the A660.

Designers say this will retain existing kerb stones and trees by avoiding the widening of Woodhouse Lane.

Critics say the plan threatens valuable green space in a built up area.

Opponents say the decision to go ‘off road’ suggests that NGT is more about improving highways and keeping cars moving than public transport.

6. Universities to Cookridge St

Blenheim Way (A660) would be opened up to two-way traffic in current plans, while access restricted along Woodhouse Lane.

NGT would travel from Hyde Park along Woodhouse Lane, by the University of Leeds’s Parkinson Building.

A new roundabout would circle the Dry Dock junction.

NGT would continue into the city along Portland Crescent past The Rose Bowl.

Leeds Arena goers would be expected to use a new stop on Cookridge Street.

7. To Clarence Dock

Safety concerns have been raised over the plan to take the Trolleybus ‘along the steps’ of Leeds City Museum at Millennium Square.

NGT would continue onto Park Row to City Square, and turn left onto Boar Lane with a stop outside Trinity Church.

The Trolleybus is to cross Leeds Bridge along Lower Briggate.

A plaza and stop is planned for outside the Adelphi.

Stops at Brewery Wharf and Clarence Dock are hoped to keep the city connected.

8. To Stourton

South of the river towards Belle Isle and Hunslet, it is hoped NGT could brighten up Penny Hill shopping centre.

But fears were raised over pedestrian safety as the proposed route cuts through a primary school car park, across Whitfield Square and at points very close to homes.

An NGT park and ride facility with 2,500 spaces is planned for Stourton.

But only three stops will connect thousands of residents in south Leeds to the city centre.

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