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    • Derek Rimmer: A report in the YEP The artists impression in the report shows, that as suspected, it will be a double...
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    • Ray W: 95 is being replaced by 1 and 6 each going to a 7 minute freqency, 15 on Sundays
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Talk by Alderman Don Townsley on why NGT is bad for Leeds

Don Townsley Poster

How New Generation Transport May Affect Property Prices

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

The NGT Business Case assumes the frequency of the Number 6 and Number 1 bus services would be halved

Number 1 halved


There was a consultation event this evening at Ralph Thoresby School in Holt Park about the proposed trolleybus scheme. The scheme involves running trolleybuses from the city centre to a terminus at the Holt Park District Centre. The Holt Park terminus does raise concerns for many about the possible future conflict between the uses of the car park for shoppers as opposed to commuters.

During the event, NGT project manager Andrew Wheeler gave a slideshow presentation which highlighted something many may have been unaware of, namely that section 6.6 of the March 2012 NGT Entry Business Case Submission states that for services 1 and 6

it has been assumed that the frequency would be halved between Holt Park and the city centre

whilst for the 95 it

is assumed to be entirely replaced by NGT.

Not the best news for the more isolated residents in Tinshill and Cookridge who do not own cars?

The NGT trolleybus drop-in at City of Leeds School

City of Leeds School

City of Leeds School


The fifth of the trolleybus drop-ins took place this evening in the main hall at City of Leeds School. It was extremely well attended. Outside it was cold, with snow still lying on the ground. But inside it was warm and inviting. Hot drinks, cake and biscuits were on offer, and headmistress Georgie Sale had very kindly provided a large supply of delicious carrot cake that had only just been baked. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, and I met a number of people I’d not seen before.


The NGT team had prepared the hall in advance, so everything was in place when visitors started to arrive at 5.30pm. There were large scale trolleybus route maps on the walls, and artists’ impressions of how the trolleybus would affect various stretches of the A660. There was also a large scale version of the NGT project timetable which clearly showed the various stages of the project and when they might take place. Friendly NGT staff were on hand to answer people’s questions.

The School Hall

The School Hall


This evening’s drop-in was the best organised of the trolleybus drop-ins so far, and also the most welcoming. Thanks are due to the NGT team for organising it. And especial thanks are due to headmistress Georgie Sale for allowing her fine school hall to be used for the drop-in, and for her hospitality.


Further drop-ins will be held as follows:


Holt Park

Time: 6.00 to 7.00pm
Date: Thursday 31 January 2013
Place: Ralph Thoresby School, Assembly Hall, Holtdale Approach, LS16 7RX


Hunslet Library

Time: 3.00 to 4.30pm
Date: Thursday 7th February 2013
Place: Hunslet Library, Waterloo Road, LS10 2NS


Hunslet, St Mary’s Primary School

Time: 5.30 to 7.00pm
Date: Thursday 7th February 2013
Place: St Mary’s Primary School, School Hall, Church Street, LS10 2QY

Don Townsley : “NGT trolleybuses are likely to be bi-articulated with 200 mostly standing passengers”

Swiss-built Hess LighTram double-articulated trolleybus

swiss built h Swiss-built Hess LighTram double-articulated trolleybus


Regarding the YEP feature on 9 January one particular item does concern me and that is where the ‘Metro spokesman’ in the final column refers to ‘companies interested in building the articulated 200 passenger vehicles’. Now ftr and most other 18 metre two section artic buses are typically reputed to carry 53 seated with 60 standing passengers plus 1 wheelchair and 2 buggies. The terrible artists impressions (no photographs) in Metro literature and press releases so far show 18 metre two section buses but this comment suggests that double artic vehicles are the intention, and have been all along. No wonder they are short on detail and have not published any photographs. The Swiss built Hess LighTram (pictured) of which there are three in Lucerne is a 24.7m long double-articulated trolleybus with a capacity of around 192 passengers of which only 68 have seats. Heaven help us with two of them together down Park Row and along Boar Lane! The standard Volvo/Wright Gemini 10metre long double decker as used in Leeds (standard or hybrid) takes 89 of which all but 21 are seated whilst the 12 metre long 3 axle version will take 125 of which only 44 stand. Two of these either hybrid or fully electric would more than equal the Hess and would be separate to avoid adding to congestion and could run more frequently. Most times in the day you do not need a 200 capacity monster but you do need a regular and short wait frequency.

City Alderman and Transport Consultant condemns NGT

A four car electric train. The £250m cost of NGT would buy 60 trains like this.


In practice the NGT scheme would produce nothing that could not be achieved by conventional double decker buses in well maintained condition, on good roads, and to a specification at least compatible with that of Yorkshire Coastliner and Harrogate and District (Transdev) vehicles. Bendy buses, diesel or trolley, increase congestion because of their 80% increase in length with no increase in payload and a diesel bendy bus is roughly twice the cost of the double decker. The trolley bus is dearer still, partly on account of the smaller production volume. Mainly used in former Russian and Eurasion states the penalties in this country of using small isolated fleets with regard to spares and operating costs should not be under estimated. There are none currently in Britain and relatively few in Western Europe.

I am amazed at the promoters’ claims that the scheme will result in a projected increase in the annual GDP of Leeds of £176million, creation of 4,250 jobs and a substantial reduction in the City’s carbon footprint. At best these figures are nebulous and at worst economical with the truth. Five years on from its conception and at least six years estimated before completion it should be rebranded Next Generation Transport. These timescales are ridiculous for the solution of a problem that exists now. Surely it cries out for some highway improvements and a small injection of new up to date off the shelf buses to give benefit now without dipping into and wasting the DfT funding which would better be transferred to a sensible light rail scheme on the right route as allowed for in the Early Day Motion submitted to Parliament on 4 July. Thorpe Park to Leeds City Centre suggests itself as an easily realisable cost effective high speed tramway from a catchment point with great park and ride and local development potential for which the major cost could come out of the trolley bus funding. Couple this tramway and park and ride facility with a railway station at Thorpe Park (not Micklefield) and the combined effect on relieving traffic congestion would be enormous. Thorpe Park, at Junction 46 on the M1 with existing and expandable access to the M1, is not only an already committed growth area in itself but is the one place most ideally situated to absorb traffic heading into Leeds from most other areas of high population. Motorists will leave their cars for a fast frequent tramway service into the city centre or for a train to other destinations but they will not do so for a bus, diesel or trolley, which then stops every few yards to pick up the locals or serve the local hospital. There is no such thing as a fit all solution as hinted at by NGT.

A sobering thought is that the cost suggested for the NGT scheme would alternatively buy 60 four-car (240 vehicles) 100mph electric trains. I know which would produce the best return on capital and the greenest footprint. Under present operating conditions to replace NGT the bus companies would provide the standard buses as a normal part of their everyday business and take the commercial risk.

There are more opportunities available now for easing the transport difficulties than have been possible for some time. What is needed is a more pragmatic approach.

Don Townsley


As well as being a former Leeds Councillor and now an Honorary Alderman, Don Townsley is a Chartered Engineer and Transport Consultant with a proven track record over more than fifty years.

NGT – shiny photo opportunities

From left to right: Stewart Golton (Leader, Leeds Lib Dems), Mehboob Khan (Leader, Kirklees Council), Keith Wakefield (Leader, Leeds City Council), Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister), Peter Box (Leader, Wakefield Council), James Alexander (Leader, York Council). Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers.


In my estimation the Arena is probably a better use of the money. The NGT scheme will encourage people to live even further away & drive even greater distances by giving them a mistaken idea that they are being ‘green’ by using allegedly renewable energy for the last few miles. It does nothing about curbing car use.

NGT will, I believe, actively disadvantage those living in the inner parts of Leeds & who are doing the right thing by being close to where they want to pursue their daily activities. It will hobble growing cycling on the A660, also make it more difficult to go east-west on foot, as well as slice into public space on Woodhouse Moor, as examples.

Those interested in local politics ought to stand up and put the locality first…

I wonder what modelling has been done of total, i.e. cradle to grave, resource use; e.g. carbon, public amenity, money etc. of the gimmicky NGT scheme …. including that of the ‘urban flight’ which it will cause….. versus alternatives.

…I rather think some LCC types will be more focussed on ‘shiny photo-opportunities’.

NGT – where the electricity would come from


Because the trolleybuses proposed for Leeds would be using electricity from the national grid, and because 72.5% of the electricity generated in the UK comes from burning fossil fuels, trolleybuses on the streets of Leeds would be no less polluting than diesel buses. All they would do is transfer pollution produced by buses, from the streets, to the areas around the power stations.

And because the Leeds trolleybus system would create several vehicle stacks to facilitate the movement of the trolleybus, any reduction in bus pollution on the streets would be offset by an increase in exhaust fumes from stationary cars, vans and lorries.

(photo courtesy of freefotouk)asgh

John Bale calls for the trolleybus scheme to be scrapped


Former councillor John Bale is calling for the trolleybus scheme to be scrapped. In a letter published in today’s paper, he describes the trolleybus project as a “timid and parochial approach.”

He says that we need a “steel on steel transport system” which will decongest the roads. He ends by saying:

The need now is for political leadership of the kind demonstrated by Councillor Procter, not humble acceptance of second-best solutions.

As well as being a former councillor, John Bale is Emeritus Professor of Construction Management at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Councillor John Procter calls for the trolleybus scheme to be scrapped

Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers


Councillor John Procter is calling for the trolleybus scheme to be scrapped. In a letter published in Monday’s Yorkshire Evening Post, he says that in the wake of the news that the scheme is faced with a £20 million funding gap, the project should be abandoned.

He describes the trolleybus as a compromise, and argues that instead of pursuing it, we should be applying for money from the government’s new £50 billion infrastructure fund to build a tram system.

He says that what’s needed is vision and ambition, and that to continue with the trolleybus scheme would be a wasted opportunity for Leeds.

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