Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Objections to Woodhouse Moor Land Grab by Leeds Metro

There has been local outrage at Leeds City Council's attempt to slip these planning applications under the radar by not including them in the main Transport and Works Act Order application for the trolleybus, even though they are clearly for that purpose, being included on th  e NGT website.

I have copied my objection to these below in order that those who haven't the time to go through these in detail (for instance I have examined most of these on Google Earth as well as the linked maps).  There is very inadequate explanation of these, one only has six words, so it takes a lot of studying of the maps in order to work out what is intended, and even then it is not always clear.

So there is a broad template here that you can refer to and develop your own objections from.  These are supposed to be in by Saturday 9th Nov 2013 so you need to get them in soon. 

Also I have had to give the email address of a representative of Leeds Legal Services as the NGT page does not give an email address for response, only a ground address, which is being slightly unhelpful in my own view.  I have rung them and asked for a proper address to be put on their page, but it has not happened yet.

Any person who wishes to object to the proposed appropriation should submit written representations to Legal Services, Leeds City Council, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR.

 Ref A76/DO/094793 by no later than the 9th day of November 2013.

FAO Leeds Legal Services.

Dear Ms Blenkin,

I am writing to you to object to all 9 of the Open Space Appropriations          

recently published, since there is no email address on the page where I found the information below and I have been advised that objections addressed to you will be registered.

Firstly may I say that they are badly numbered.  For instance,

is Site 7

is Site 1, and so on, and there are two pages with 'Site 6' or '6' on them 

Several of the sites are referred to as a 'small strip of land'.  I do not believe that a strip such as Site 1 (Parcel 2) which appears to be approximately a quarter of a mile long can be legitimately called 'small'.

Site 8 Parcel 4 (0.3mb pdf) is apparently 173 meters long.  This may be narrow, but it is not 'small'

The loss of public amenity applies to Parcels 1 to 4 all of which are open green space whose amenity to the public would be lost or degraded, including  Parcel 3 (0.3mb pdf)   and this is unacceptable on a mere Planning Committee decision.

I object to these applications.

Woodhouse Moor

Sites 3, 4 and 6   Parcel 5 (0.5mb pdf) and Parcel 6 (0.5mb pdf)

are park and of immense amenity value to the local population for over a century.  It is utterly unacceptable that these should be appropriated on a simple planning committee decision.   This is a conservation area and the most heavily used park in Leeds. I object to these applications.

The row of trees along the grass verge is included within the delineated area which goes up to the modern low railing.  This would appear to suggest the possibility of their felling which must not be allowed.  There are over twenty trees along this line, over half of which are of significant age.  The land take also includes trees in an open area of both grass and pavement at the Hyde Park end by the sports areas, which is also an area of social amenity that would be lost.

The loss of this strip would denude the side of the park.  The inner tarmac paved pathway is popular with joggers and to reduce to one pavement alone would probably be unsafe for normal pedestrians at peak times.  If this was taken a new path would need to be made within the new edge of Woodhouse Moor and the oldest public park in Leeds would be eroded where there is already the widest section of road on the A660 between the University and West Park.  Even if the NGT scheme went ahead this land would not be needed, or at least not under the plans given so far in submission.

 The wide York Stone paving all along this side is a fine piece of street architecture and probably has conservation status.  It is most attractive and is accompanied by a grass verge which raises the inner path to a higher level than the road and provides a suitable buffer between the park and the busy road, besides which it is one of the principle and busiest routes on foot from the University to Hyde Park, Woodhouse and Headingley.  If this land were to be appropriated for road use, then a similar width of land would need to be taken from Woodhouse Moor to replace the pavement.  This is no less than simply attempting to take parkland for road and not even having the decency to include it in the main plans for the trolleybus route which would subject it to a public enquiry.  It is dishonourable in the extreme.

In fact, looking closely at the pdf map, I am minded to say that the proposed land acquisition covers the grass verge and inner pathway, but not the York stone paving.  Is this graphic intentional?  Do Metro and Highways already claim the right to remove this (conservation) stone pavement?  If not then the map is erroneous and thus the submission would be void. 

This whole piece of land is most attractive and strongly mitigates the impact of a busy road passing by it besides which it is one of the principle and busiest routes on foot from the University to Hyde Park, Woodhouse and Headingley.

It is not clear from Parcel 5 (0.5mb pdf) why the land on Monument Moor has been included.  Has there been an increase in desired land take over and above the already submitted applications?  Are any trees included?  I object to this application. 

The small road at the top of this page (either site 3 or 6, it is not clear which) is unnecessary.   It would go through some green space and a children’s playground besides several mature trees some of which are quite likely as old as the layout of the Moor itself.  Since none of the trees are notated in the maps given it is not clear which ones are threatened, however, there are 4 mature trees of at least a century vintage and probably significantly more where the proposed new road would come out on Woodhouse street, and another where the new road would meet Woodhouse Cliff.  At a time when tree loss and climate change is such a concern, felling mature trees of this quality should not be considered.

All of these ‘appropriations’ are for the purpose of the trolleybus.  Why were they not included in the application for the Transport and Works Act Order?  And why were they not mentioned at either of the Plans Panel full day sessions in June and October?  There has been much discussion of the route over Monument Moor, but not one mention of the land grab on the south side of Woodhouse Lane which is clearly intended for an expansion of the road into another lane for the trolleybus and traffic ‘stacking’.

There is no substantive difference between these and any other of the planning applications made over this, except that these are green space.

Site 9  I object to this application.  This is a piece of green space in an extremely built up area and should be preserved.  The building of a road would not only take out valuable car parking space but the access to the main road would almost certainly disrupt traffic flow on it.  Traffic flow is to my understanding one of the primary reasons for this ill advised scheme, so for road alterations which interrupt that flow seems contrary to common sense.

Site 5  An already immensely built up area, I object to this application.  It needs no more buildings on the limited green spaces.  I imagine that this application would not be necessary should the intention have been only to plant trees on it.

This is labelled Site 6, although Parcel 5 (0.5mb pdf)

Also has a ‘6’ on it.

I am referring to the application to take land from Belle Isle Circus.  I object to this application.   This is parkland with semi mature trees.  It is absolutely unacceptable to take this parkland merely on a planning committee decision, and should not in principle be considered as it is land which belongs to the community.  There is at least one park bench on the land which is directly in the path of the intended route and this is quite clearly a public amenity which would be lost and for which there could be no local replacement.

Finally, I should like to complain that there has been no email address placed on the NGT site where I found these links.

I spoke to a Mr Hacker about this today, and although he assured me he would put an email address on the page, this has not happened.  In an era when we are all encouraged to use email instead of paper, it is absolutely unacceptable to be posting pages such as these without a proper response form as is usually the case with planning applications or even an email address which one may make one’s objections too.  This following, I believe it was, 34 conservation and listed building applications which needed to be responded to.  The way this has been handled is such that it is either incompetent or it has been constructed so as to minimise the likelihood that objections would be registered.

Yours sincerely,


(You must include your name and address otherwise your objection will be disregarded.)

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