Here are some notes I made at the special meeting of the Whinmoor Neighbourhood Forum on 31st July. Councillor Gruen chaired the meeting and presentations were given by Adam Brannen, LCC head of regeneration, and Paul Russell, LCC principal engineer at Highways.
Adam Brannen introduced the East Leeds Extension (ELE) and the East Leeds Orbital Route (ELOR). He said that “ELOR is a key requirement of the housing allocation” which means that they need to build the road before they can build the houses. There are 5000 homes estimated in the allocation for the East Leeds Extention (ie. the land from Red Hall all the way round Crossgates to Thorpe Park).
Adam said that the economic modelling shows that there will 6000 new jobs in the city as a result of ELE and ELOR. There will be a new railway station and park & ride at Thorpe Park. There will be improvements to the bus network and cycleway.
The Red Hall development: there is a total capacity for 350 new homes at Red Hall – 300 on the nursery site and 50 on the playing fields. They are thinking of shifting the balance further (ie. more homes on the nursery and few homes on the playing field) when a developer comes on board.
He confirmed that Red Hall Lane will not become a through road on the Red Hall site. It will be a through lane for pedestrians and cyclists and possibly buses but not other vehicles.
The Northern Quadrant (2000 houses between A58 and A64). It looks like it will be still be a good 2 years before house building starts.
The ELOR will be built regardless of whether the houses are built or not. The Council will be paying initially for the ELOR. The developers will ultimately pay for the ELOR via a roof tax.
There will be an “uplift” factored in so over time this roof tax will increase (I think I understood this correctly).
Paul Russell from Highways talked about the details of the ELOR construction:
There will be a downgrading and enhancement of the existing Outer Ring Road. In advance of ELOR construction, there will be some work to improve the Roundhay Park junction, and the A61 and King Lane roundabouts, also the turn off to Shadwell. This work can proceed without the need for planning permission as it is counted as “permitted development” and should begin early next year. However, the A58/ORR roundabout is not included in this programme of works and will only be considered for improvement after the ELOR is built. Councillor Gruen thought that this was not satisfactory and said that he will recommend that this junction is improved early on along with the others.
Paul Russell said that the aim of ELOR was to support the wider regeneration of East Leeds, and the building of housing, improve connectivity, provide high quality infracstructure, reduce congestion and remove traffic from the urban areas. There would be high quality landscaping and sustainable drainage ponds on the northern side to deal with the water runoff. There would be greenspace and green screening along the whole of the northern outer edge. On the southern side there would be a 2 metre “bund” (earth mound) with trees on top (eventually) and he thought that this would provide better screening visually than the green screening that is planned for the northern side. None of these techniques would screen out the noise though (I think I understood this correctly).
There would be three trees replaced for every tree felled in the construction process.
Red Hall Lane (East) junction with the A58: this will now be kept open (a couple of years ago they were talking about closing this).
There will be formal, segregated cycleway and footway along the sound side of ELOR with 24 hour lighting. On the north side there will be a more informal pathway accessible for horseriding. There will also be pockets of greenspace, including a country park along the northern edge. The crossing over to Winn Moor Lane will be a “green bridge” the footway of which will wind down into what is now the wood yard (which will be landscaped with mounds and I think also a drainage pond). To access the country park, further round nearer the A64, there will be an underpass – which will include a boggy drainage pond.
About the traffic modelling – Paul says it really does work and shows that traffic will flow. (I’m concerned about the ELOR roundabouts particularly where the ELOR meets the existing ORR. Traffic will naturally have to slow down at these junctions so if there is any congestion, then people will be looking for other routes to cut through…)
He said also that they haven’t included the possibility of a congestion charge in the city centre in the modelling.
Construction of ELOR should begin early 2019 with the aim to finish in early 2021.
That is all I have in my notes – I think there were other things raised which I didn’t get down. I would have asked about pollution issues (both noise and fumes) but we ran out of time.
Neither Adam nor Paul would confirm if this planning application for the ELOR will go to a public inquiry for independent assessment. At the moment the council is the both the “applicant” and the judge – it is applying to itself for planning permission. I have already spotted some little errors in the landscape analysis submitted by the contractor Mouchel, but I don’t understand the traffic modelling or the finances underpinning it (seems very dependent on house prices and whether people are prepared to pay thousands extra in “roof tax” when they buy one of these houses). Also Leeds City Council has just revised down the figure of total housing that it needs to plan for until 2028 from 70, 000 to 55,000 homes, so the housing numbers as a whole planned for the East Leeds will need to be reassessed. So my response to the ELOR planning application will be that while I support the aims of development and the necessary improvements to road infrastructure, this planning application shouldn’t be approved until there has been a full public inquiry, classing my response as an “objection” to increase the pressure on the Council for independent scrutiny.
The council seem very keen to answer questions – so do email email@example.com. Also there is more information at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/The-East-Leeds-Orbital-Road.aspx including an animated ELOR “fly-through” (doesn’t show the new housing, though, or any vehicles!).