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METRO’S NGT WEBSITE

This is a very uninformative and difficult to use website.

It lists ‘advantages’ of the scheme, but mentions no disadvantages.

It is very difficult to find documents. They are buried deep, only findable only by the ‘search’ facility.

LAND TAKE AND SITE BOUNDARY

Where is the site boundary, in terms of proposed land take and other works?

Does this boundary permit appropriate planting or landscape enhancements? Is the intention to carry out works beyond the ‘boundary’?

The plans are annotated that reduced vehicular lane widths could avoid land take (Lawnswood police station, West Park, etc.) Will this less damaging option be chosen, thus retaining many trees?

LOSS OF TREES

Exactly which trees will be removed, to allow road widening or clearance from electric wires?

To what extent will trees be cut back to clear electric wires?

What criteria/clearances will apply to tree loss/pruning?

(In the Auckland tram proposal, the electricity poles have to be outside the ‘drip line’ of trees. This would be virtually impossible, or very onerous, in Headingley/Otley Road. 2 m clearance is specified between branches and conductors. Elsewhere it says new trees will be maintained to achieve 0.5m clearance from wires.)

It is fair to say that the loss of trees will be hugely damaging to the environment of Otley Road and the adjacent communities.

TREE PLANTING

How much planting is proposed?

Will planting take place outside the ‘limits of deviation’/works boundary?

How much planting at the park and ride site? Also, does NGT control land outside car park to achieve the ‘landscape buffer’ annotated beyond the boundary?

What criteria for planting to replace lost trees? e.g. numbers for each mature tree lost, maturity of stock, etc.

Will NGT replant trees lost to garden land take – e.g. at West Park roundabout, where many will be lost?

Is planting being offered to householders/businesses to compensate for tree loss on Highway land? (In the Nottingham Tram proposal, trees are being offered for private gardens).

Will there be tree planting in the central ‘roundabout’ island and in the enlarged central reservation islands next to Lawnswood Roundabout?

SPACES/TOWNSCAPE

Little Moor

How will the historic design of the ‘Little Moor’, with its symmetrical paths and central statue, be re-designed to restore its character?

Hyde Park Corner

What is proposed for the Hyde Park Corner /Victoria Road spaces resulting from the widening of the road into the shops, petrol station and advertising hoarding sites? (One would hope that the hoarding would be removed, and that a comprehensive landscape scheme would be implemented for the whole stretch between the Girls High School and Hyde Park Road, and for the potentially huge space at the top of Victoria Road).

St Anne’s Road/Shaw Lane

Mature trees, grass and shrubs will be lost from in front of the St Anne’s Road shops. Will NGT provide a complete new landscape scheme for this prominent and important corner, including planting, seating, reduced parking to replace lost landscape space, accommodation of utilities and telecom cabinets, etc.?

Trees, shrubs and pedestrian space will also be lost from the other three corners of the junction. Will a comprehensive replanting scheme be provided?

Three Horseshoes

At the blocked off Weetwood Lane junction, the stop with its shelter and advertising(?) and other clutter is likely to be damaging to the character of the conservation area. Will NGT provide a complete new hard and soft landscape scheme at this iconic location?

Otley Road

The road will be wider for much of the stretch between St Chad’s Drive and St Chad’s church, to allow a new trolleybus lane and a new stop opposite the Three Horseshoes. This will change the scale of the road, make the character much less pleasant, and tend to divide the community.

INFRASTRUCTURE DESIGN

Support poles and wirescape

These are not shown on the plans or artist’s impressions, but it is clear that they will have a considerable impact on local character.

What attention has been given to the design and location of the supporting poles for the electric wires, in order to avoid an ugly utilitarian solution?

Stops/platforms/shelters

What will an NGT stop consist of? Will it include shelters, raised platform (as with buses), advertising, litter bins, seating, etc.

Will the design be utilitarian and standardised, or tailored to each sensitive location?

Surface materials and kerbs

Will existing areas of stone kerbs and yorkstone flags be relaid or reinstated?

TRAFFIC

Traffic movements

How will outbound right turns into Burton Crescent and Cottage Road be accommodated/diverted?

How will traffic turn right out of St Chad’s Drive? If this is to be prohibited, why is a pedestrian refuge not shown at the mouth of St Chad’s Drive? There is plenty of room.

Rat-running

Banning the inbound right turn into St Anne’s Road will increase traffic including ‘rat-running’ in St Chad’s Drive, Beckett Park Crescent, Batcliffes, etc. The proposed pedestrian crossing (and traffic lights?) at St Chad’s Drive/Burton Crescent will encourage this. This supports the case for traffic calming and 20 mph speed limits in Beckett’s Park.

Parking

In the Business Case document on the NGT website, nothing is said about the loss of on-street parking along the route, including that for shops. Has this aspect been considered?

What provision is being made to replace the on-street parking for the shops at Far Headingley? What consideration has been given to the potential failure of these businesses due to loss of parking? Have they been consulted?

IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY

The increased road widths, for example in Far Headingley, together with complex pedestrian crossings and more road clutter, is likely to have a divisive effect on the community.

USERS OF NGT AND BUSES

Delays to buses and other traffic

Currently the buses on the route are frequent and convenient.

If sections of NGT lane are barred to buses, which then have to ‘mix it’ with cars, to what extent have delays to buses been taken into account?

Pedestrian crossings and bus stops

The relocated bus stops and pedestrian crossings will increase be inconvenient to pedestrians and to bus users. The new locations are mostly further from desire lines and facilities such as shops.

For example, relocating the ‘Horse Trough’ bus stop further north will be inconvenient for both Becketts Park residents and university students.

Passenger convenience

Currently passengers can go to a bus stop and wait for the next bus of their choice. With separate stops for NGT, passengers will have to decide whether to use Trolleybus or the ordinary buses, leading to confusion and longer overall journey times due to the additional wait for a (reduced bus) service.

No doubt passengers will be running between bus and tram stops like headless chickens.

OTHER ROAD USERS

Cyclists

The removal of dedicated cycle lanes and shared bus-lane/cycle lanes will reduce safety and discourage cycle use. This is not acceptable – proper cycle provision must be designed into the scheme.

How will inbound cyclists be routed onto the existing footpath under the trees alongside Woodhouse Moor? This does not look practical.

The proposed cycle lane shared with pedestrians at Lawnswood roundabout seems neither practical nor sensible, particularly given milling crowds of schoolchildren three times a day!

How will cyclists following Otley Road safely negotiate the new Lawnswood Roundabout layout, without cycle lanes or refuges?

Pedestrians

Wholesale reduction in footway width from 3 or 4 m to the ‘standard minimum’ of 2m will decrease safety and discourage walking due to noise, proximity of traffic and the fear of injury by passing vehicles. (Bus and lorry mirrors which can be lethal to pedestrians). A road of this scale needs wider footways – 2m is inadequate for two sets of two people to pass.

How will pedestrians safely cross the dedicated NGT track on Woodhouse Moor, to access bus stops or simply pass from one stretch of footway to another?

The existing outbound cycle lanes improve pedestrian safety by keeping vehicles (buses and cars) away from the footway. Removing them will make pedestrian journeys along the route less pleasant and less safe.

Routing cyclists onto the path alongside Woodhouse Moor is likely to be hazardous for pedestrians (as well as to cyclists travelling in opposite directions). This path beneath the trees is currently a pleasant, safe and popular route for pedestrians, keeping them away from the traffic and fumes alongside the road.

Why is it necessary to increase the kerb radii at St Chad’s Drive? This will remove trees, and increase the distance for pedestrians to cross. The existing radii work perfectly well for large vehicles.

FAR HEADINGLEY WEETWOOD AND WEST PARK NEIGHBOURHOOD DESIGN STATEMENT

The proposed revised document (currently with the Council for comment) calls for the environment of the A660 corridor to be protected from any detrimental effects of new transport infrastructure. The following extracts are relevant:

Otley Road (A660) is a heavily used radial route to the city centre which bisects the neighbourhood. It creates a significant barrier to movement across it, but also provides frequent bus services both to the city and to neighbouring towns, and is scheduled as a New Generation Transport (NGT) – trolley-bus route. The design of the route and stops at key junctions provides the opportunity to enhance the public realm and the experience of pedestrians and cyclists. It must also respect and contribute to the character of the three Conservation Areas it passes through or alongside. The Otley Road corridor through Far Headingley is characterised by wide verges and mature trees and these too must be respected.

Wherever highway improvements are carried out they should take account of the scale and character of spaces including pedestrian desire lines, existing trees, scope for new planting, the need to reduce pedestrian barriers and signage as much as possible and the provision of attractive as well as safe routes for all highway users. In particular, the design of the NGT (New Generation Transport – trolleybus) route, including road widening and the overhead line system, will need the utmost care to ensure that impacts on character and on the mature treescape, grass verges and stone paved footways are minimised. Consultations with residents on the details of the scheme should be full and meaningful.

Andrew Pomeroy

25.01.13