The re-emergence in Autumn 2013 of the inspector’s report on the Liverpool trolleybus application,1 and the secretary of state’s decision,2 showed opponents of the current Leeds trolleybus scheme that failure to replace open space is sufficient reason to recommend rejection of an application for a TWAO.
The NGT Project Board Minutes3 reveal that this major obstacle for the Leeds trolleybus scheme was already apparent to the NGT team. At paragraph 5d on page 9 of the Project Board Minutes of the 18th June 2013, it says that Mr Tom Gifford of Metro advised the group that the open space position in relation to Woodhouse Moor contravened both local and national guidance.
The local policy that would be contravened if the trolleybus were to run across Monument Moor is Policy N1 of the Leeds Unitary Development Plan.4 The policy is set out on page 53. It states that N1 protected green space has to be replaced if it’s going to be developed, unless the need in the locality can be shown to be met.
The national policy that would be contravened if the trolleybus were to run across Monument Moor is Policy 74 of the National Planning Policy Framework.5 This states that open space should not be developed unless it’s surplus to requirements, or replaced.
At paragraph 4f on page 4 of the NGT Project Board Minutes of the 16th September 2013, it states that Deputy Chief Planning Officer Stephen Speak “raised concerns that it will be difficult to designate the land on Woodhouse Moor as surplus and Kieran Preston asked how this was dealt with on the Supertram project.” Mr Preston must have forgotten that Supertram would not have run across Monument Moor.
At paragraph 4f on page 4 of the NGT Project Board Minutes of the 21st October 2013, it says that acting Chief Executive of Metro, John Henkel stated that “it is difficult to argue the case for the land being classed as surplus.” Mr Henkel was referring to the land to be appropriated on the 8th January 2014.
To get round the problem, the promoters devised four separate strategies:
- Trying to prove that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has a surplus of open space by referring at the Public Inquiry to an unpublished revised PPG17 study that forms part of the council’s Draft Site Allocations Plan.
- Trying to prove that the mitigation required by the scheme would enhance the quality of the park and in this way make up for the loss of open space.
- Arguing that Monument Moor has little landscape or historical value.
- Appropriating part of Monument Moor and declaring it to be no longer required as open space.