Leeds City Council urged to reconsider trolleybus scheme

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Earlier today, a deputation from the A660 Joint Council told councillors at a full meeting of Leeds City Council that there are serious errors in the city’s Draft Site Allocations Plan relating to open space, which mean that the council should reconsider its decision to proceed with the trolleybus scheme. Here is the text of the speech that was given to the council :

Good afternoon. My name is Dawn Carey Jones. I’m secretary to the A660 Joint Council. I’m accompanied by Joint Council member Claire Randall. We’re here to make you aware that a shortage of open space along the proposed trolleybus route, means the scheme contravenes national and local planning policies, and to ask you to act on this information.

The NGT Project Board minutes reveal that the Board recognized that running NGT across Woodhouse Moor contravened both local and national guidance. The Deputy Chief Planning Officer said “it will be difficult to designate the land on Woodhouse Moor as surplus.” The Acting Chief Executive of Metro said “it is difficult to argue the case for the land being classed as surplus.” The policies that would be contravened are N1 of the UDP and Policy 74 of the National Planning Policy Framework which states that open space should not be developed unless it’s surplus to requirements, or replaced.

Despite this, at the public inquiry, Metro claimed that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has surplus open space, and can therefore spare land on Monument Moor for NGT. When it was pointed out to the Deputy Chief Planning Officer that the previous week, one of his planning officer’s reports on the St Michael’s College re-development had stated, “The ward of Hyde Park and Woodhouse records one of the highest levels of greenspace deficiency across the city,” he claimed that this was an error, and that the true position was one of surplus, as shown in the Draft Site Allocation Plan, which he waved in the air.

But just how much reliance can be placed on the Draft Site Allocations Plan? The truth is that this is a document containing many major errors.

Error 1. It designates 1.312 hectares at “Cliff Mount Fields” as ‘Parks and Gardens.” Although the area was classified as N1 in the UDP, it was used by City of Leeds School for formal sports and given to the school and fenced off when the school became an academy.

Error 2. It designates 19.799 hectares at “Woodhouse Moor Park” as “Parks and Gardens.” But the council’s Woodhouse Moor Management Plan 2004 reveals that the area is actually 19.07 hectares, 0.73 hectares less than claimed.

Error 3. It designates 0.536 hectares at “Mount Preston Street (Leeds Uni)” as “Amenity Green Space” even though this area has been entirely built on.

Error 4. It designates 1.208 hectares at “Woodsley Road (Leeds Uni)” as “Amenity Green Space” even though most of this area has been built on and just 0.12 hectares remain.

Error 5. It designates 0.854 hectares at “Willow Road – Rising Sun Public Open Space” as “Amenity Green Space” even though it’s a fenced off, locked up sports pitch. Furthermore, it double counts this site by also including it as “Outdoor Sports.”

Error 6 –It states there are three tennis courts on Woodhouse Moor when there are actually six. They occupy 0.12 hectares and not 0.223 as claimed.

Error 7 – It states that the three bowling greens on Woodhouse Moor cover 4.11 hectares when they actually cover 0.44 hectares. And since two are decommissioned, the true figure is 0.15 hectares.

Error 8 – It double counts 1.312 hectares at Cliff Mount Fields by including the area as both ‘Parks and Gardens” and “Outdoor Sports.” This area should not have been included as ‘Outdoor Sports” since the Draft Site Allocations Plan states it excludes educational outdoor sports provision.

Error 9 – It states that the area of Woodhouse Ridge inside Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward is 5.024 hectares. A glance at a map shows this to be incorrect. If it were true, the area would be bigger than Cinder Moor and Monument Moor combined, which clearly it’s not.

Error 10 – It states that dividing 5.024 hectares of Natural Greenspace by the 2011 population figure of 25,914 gives a provision of 1.93 hectares per 1,000 population., when it actually gives a provision of 0.193 hectares per 1,000, much less than the required minimum of 0.7.

When all the errors are corrected, and up to date population estimates used, Hyde Park and Woodhouse is shown to have deficits in all categories of open space. This means no part of Woodhouse Moor can be spared for the trolleybus. There are serious implications too for the housing target for the ward. Please can the above Draft Site Allocations Plan errors be corrected, and the document checked for other similar errors. Similar errors do exist.

On the false understanding that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has surplus open space, the council appropriated three sections of Woodhouse Moor for the trolleybus scheme. Now that you’re aware that the ward had a deficit in open space, please reverse this decision, and please also reconsider your decisions of the 1st July and 13th November 2013 to support an application for a Transport and Works Act Order to enable the trolleybus project to proceed.


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