Leeds trolleybus scheme clears major hurdle

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Leeds’s controversial trolleybus scheme has passed a major planning hurdle despite widespread opposition from every part of the 14km route.

Councillors spent the whole of yesterday (June 25) listening to complaints about plans for each of the eight stages of the line, which would run from Holt Park in the north to Stourton in the south.

Only one of those who addressed the meeting spoke in favour of the £250m scheme.

At a special meeting of the city plans panel, members were invited to comment on proposals that will form the basis of what is effectively an outline planning application for the New Generation Transport (NGT) scheme –the trolleybus.

A majority voted in favour of recommendations that will now progress the report to the Transport Secretary for approval – subject to certain conditions.

The panel’s chair, councillor Neil Taggart, reminded members: “The purpose of this meeting is to look at the scheme and to make sure it is the best it can be.”

Issues raised by community leaders included the loss of trees, buildings and woodland along the route; loss of character in the conservation areas of Headingley, Weetwood, Hyde Park and Woodhouse; increased pollution and congestion; and pedestrian road safety.

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It is estimated that NGT will generate around 4,000 long-term jobs and boost the economy by £160m a year.

It will travel from Holt Park, along the A660 corridor through Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse, through the city centre and on to Stourton via Belle Isle and Hunslet.

John Dickinson, on behalf of Weetwood Residents’ Association said the scheme was “not green”, would ruin the environment, yield a poorer than expected overall public transport offering along the A660 and increase air pollution in Headingley.

He said: “Both in concept and detail [these proposals offer] a lose, lose, lose, lose situation.”

Dawn Carey Jones spoke against a scheme she said would create a city intersection outside City Square.

Proposed closure of Weetwood Lane to through traffic in Far Headingley sparked plans for a site visit after many councillors said they knew nothing of it.

NGT aims to provide faster and more efficient transport links, while tackling congestion.

If it gets the go ahead, construction could start as early 2017/18 with the first modern trolleybuses in the UK then running by 2020.

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