A study on the capacity of the A65, commissioned by WARD from Met Engineering, shows conclusively what everyone living along the route already knows – that the A65 (Leeds to Ilkley) and A658 (Harrogate/airport road) are over capacity, congested, FULL UP.
The report identifies the causes: loss of local employment sites leading to more travelling out of the area to work, the large numbers of new dwellings since 1995, and the major expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. Meanwhile, the A65 and A658 have hardly changed and cannot cope with this new level of regular traffic.
The congestion is worse at weekends than at peak times, as all the new and existing residents travel to shops and weekend activities; this is exacerbated in tourist and holiday seasons as people pass throught the area on the way to the Dales or the airport.
The A65 Report identifies the need for data from the whole of the area to gauge the extent of the ‘congestion’ brought about by development. It points out that frustrated drivers are now finding alternative routes, ‘rat running’ along the whole length of the A65 from Menston to Kirkstall. This activity reduces the traffic trip figues obtained along the A65 itself, and thus underestimates the extent of the congestion.
Some Details From The Report
- The A65 and A660 (Otley/Bramhope to Leeds) are the most congested routes into Leeds City Centre.
- The worst places for congestion on the A65, with the slowest speeds, are between Guiseley and Rawdon (11 – 20mph), approaching Horsforth Roundabout (less than 10 mph), and between Kirkstall and Leeds (11 – 20 mph). Diagram in a pdf here.
- Travel times during congested periods are unacceptably long for ‘driver and passenger wellbeing’- Rawdon to Leeds takes 18 minutes by car normally, at busy times it takes 42 minutes – more than double! On the same journey, the buses take 37 minutes normally, nearly an hour at peak times.
Such long public transport journey times are a major reason why many choose not to use buses, so making them less profitable to run and causing cutbacks for the people who have no alternative. Some elderly Rawdon residents now have no means of public transport to shops and facilities.
Other people turn to the trains. However, at peak times trains between Ilkley and Leeds are also over capacity, and all day parking causes issues for local residents in the towns and villages that have railway stations: in Guiseley this drives out local shoppers. And so the cumulative negative economic and social effect of over development, with no thought given to ‘place making’, builds up.
Further housing development along the A65, such as the 98 houses approved for Moons Field Guiseley, and the 308 houses approved for Menston (Derry Hill/Bingley Road), will make matters even worse. And, there is more to come in the Local Development Plans (LDF) now under consideration by both Leeds and Bradford. Leeds wants to build 2,300 further homes in Aireborough, and 2,000 in the Otley area; Bradford is aiming for 3,100 houses between Menston and Ilkley. Recently, 550 houses were given planning permission for the Clarient Works site in Horsforth. Meanwhile, developers are now trying to get planning permission for 468 houses on Kirklees Knoll in Farsley, and 100 houses north of the river in Otley before Leeds has finalised its LDF to say where development should go.
In 2005 it was acknowledged by Leeds City Council that ‘few opportunities exist to improve highway capacity on the A65‘ . This was before the extra traffic from the 1,500 new houses which have been built in the past 10 years started to take effect!
Meanwhile, the ‘quality’ bus route planned from Leeds to Horsforth will not have very much effect on journey times from Guiseley and Rawdon.
To add to the mayhem, passenger numbers at Leeds/Bradford Airport are predicted to rise from 2.4 million every year to 5 million by 2016.
The Report concludes that ‘the A65 is simply unfit for the volume of traffic now using it on weekdays and at weekends, and any further increase in traffic will see further reductions in traffic flow speeds, higher levels of congestion and more rat-running through residential areas.’
This Report leads WARD to the view that the A65 cannot take any more traffic. Therefore, the proposed 6,000, new houses in developments from Ilkley to Rawdon, with no planned increase in local employment or transport improvements, is a matter of grave concern for the wellbeing of local people and local communities.
It is quite clear that developers and landowners have not been paying the true infrastructure costs of new developments along the A65 in their Section 106 agreements. Leeds and Bradford have neglected infrastructure improvements, whilst profits, and 106 payment to the council, have been gleaned at the expense of residents quality of life. Although much investment has been put into improving traffic flow in the centre of Leeds, the A65 between Rawdon and Menston is not even identified as having congestion problems in the latest Local Transport Plan (LTP3). A full transport study, with options for improvements, is essential before any more residential planning applications are granted.
WARD will be using the evidence in this report to fight for sustainable development which is suppsed to be the ‘golden thread’ running through the new national planning policy framework (NPPF); with road and public transport improvements coming before any more development is permitted.
Anyone interested in the findings of the A65 Report should contact research@WARDyorkshire.org