Property values in parts of Leeds 6 and Leeds 16 postcode areas may be adversely affected by the introduction of the proposed New Generation Transport (NGT) scheme, which will see trolleybuses running from Holt Park into the city centre and out to Stourton. The A660 Otley Road has been earmarked for the scheme, with a park-n-ride facility at Boddington, alongside the new housing scheme that is likely to emerge there when Leeds University dispose of their interest in the site, which is currently on the market for sale.
Changes in the Landscape for Property Owners
Sections of the A660 through West Park and Far Headingley are wide enough to take a trolleybus, although visually even properties in these areas may suffer, with overhead power cables criss-crossing the road, concrete or steel supports carrying the power lines and raised terminals with overhead coverage for passengers dotted along the route. This will have a detrimental impact on property values.
I am concerned that sections of Otley Road will not ‘get away’ so lightly. Proposals include making Hollin Road one-way and widening Otley Road (opposite Georgio’s and the New Inn), by taking up sections of the green verges on the south-west side of the road. Taking away sections of mature woodland around Alma Road and Shire Oak Road are proposed as the trolleybus route snakes behind the Arndale Centre, the Original Oak pub and St Columbus’ Church. The removal of woodland around these attractive and secluded streets will have a marked affect on the peace and tranquillity they currently enjoy. Headingley Hall and Headingley Castle would doubtless suffer in the same way. Properties in these areas may be more adversely affected as the presence of the scheme in characterful conservation areas will undermine the total concept of ‘conservation’.
The Impact on Property Prices
There will be two aspects to the impact on property values by the proposed scheme – the impact on property values whilst the construction works are being undertaken and the final value of property once the infrastructure is in place and residents are experiencing the day-to-day operation of the scheme. From my 30 years experience, once such schemes are up and running, property values are relatively untainted, as prospective buyers can see for themselves how the scheme will affect their day-to-day life, and if such a scheme reduces road noise from cars, reduces traffic flows, and accelerates the time it takes to get into Leeds, there may even be some positives to take from the scheme. The problem is the impact on value during the interim period of planning and construction, which can take years.
The old Supertram scheme never got off the ground but the mere threat that it could deterred buyers from offering on some properties along the A660, as far down as Hyde Park and as far north as Lawnswood. The A65 Kirkstall Road scheme that is now complete (and much better I might add!) resulted in many houses that were facing onto the scheme either being unsaleable for a period or only being sold at heavily discounted prices. As it happens, this all occurred during the recession and as many properties were struggling to sell, the affect wasn’t as noticeable as it would have been during a boom period – which we may face in the next 10 years (the market always works in cycles!). If anyone along these routes owns a property and is thinking of either selling or renting it in the near future our advice is to have the property valued well in advance; they need to know the realistic sale or rental value and the impact of the proposed scheme on the length of time it will take to sell or let the property.
The scheme may not go ahead. Government is providing £173.5m but Leeds will still have to raise an additional £76m in today’s money. With the likely rise in costs due to inflation, the usual over-runs on both time and unforeseen expenditure along the way, and the cost of debt servicing, Leeds probably needs to budget for nearer to £125m to £150m. Can this be found and if so, from where? During the interim period property sale and rental values will still be adversely affected.
Property owners and investors need to plan ahead.
Michael J Moore FNAEA, MARLA
Moores Estate Agents