THE GOVERNMENT has ordered a public inquiry into the Leeds trolleybus scheme – as it emerged the system could directly affect up to 3,000 properties along its route.
Transport bosses have previously said that about 20 buildings will have to be demolished to create space for the network.
Now they have confirmed to the YEP that a total of around 3,000 business and domestic properties could be in some way “affected” by the New Generation Transport (NGT) project.
Potential impacts include low-voltage overhead wire fixings being attached to buildings and pieces of roadside verge being claimed for the £250m scheme.
The revelation followed yesterday’s announcement that NGT will be the subject of a public inquiry.
It will be chaired by an independent inspector whose report will help decide whether the scheme gets the final go-ahead. NGT bosses at Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire passenger transport authority Metro today welcomed the inquiry, which will take place next spring.
Metro chairman Coun James Lewis said an inquiry had been “inevitable” with a project the size of trolleybus. He went on: “It will be a good opportunity for [us] to present the significant transport and economic benefits that will result from what will be one of the UK’s largest transport schemes outside London.”
The inquiry came after 2,000 people submitted views on trolleybus during a 42-day feedback ‘window’. Around 300 of the responses were objections from the owners of some of the 3,000 properties that could be directly affected by the scheme.
NGT project manager Dave Haskins said: “[The list of 3,000] includes buildings in the city centre that may require overhead wire fixings, some where a small area of verge is being taken for the scheme and others where a pole is being erected on the pavement or verge nearby.”
He said a specific case manager would be appointed to each of the 300 property-owning objectors to address their concerns. Anti-trolleybus campaigner Bill McKinnon described the 3,000 figure as “staggering”.
The number of buildings earmarked for demolition remains unchanged, with sites at risk including shops and a former church.
STOP-START BID TO BEAT CONGESTION
THE LEEDS trolleybus plans were drawn up after the then Labour government scrapped the city’s Supertram light rail project in 2005 amid worries about spiralling costs.
If the scheme comes through the public inquiry process unscathed, its vehicles will run between Holt Park in the north of the city and Stourton in the south.
NGT chiefs say the system will reduce congestion and boost local economic output by more than £175m per year.
Opponents claim it will provide poor value for money while damaging the environment and people’s quality of life.
* Plans for a tram system linking Seacroft and Cross Gates with the city centre were floated as long ago as 1988 but were scuppered by political in-fighting.