“CAMPAIGNERS have put in an 11th hour bid to try and scupper plans to develop a former school field and sports hall site for housing.
Leeds City Council planning chiefs are today due to debate proposals for the site in Victoria Road, Headingley, which was part of the former Leeds Girls’ High School.
Officers have recommended approval of the plans by Chartford Homes and Holbeck Land for housing and a supermarket. A previous application was refused in December by councillors.
Now members of the South Headingley Community Association have put in a bid to have just the field element listed as a community asset…”
Members of HPOL, the Hyde Park Olympic Legacy group, have also written to planning chiefs, urging them to refuse the application, or at least defer their decision until some contested parts of an official report have been clarified.
For the full text of this Yorkshire Evening Post article please see link below:
Councillor John Illingworth wrote the following letter to Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council, having read the planning officer’s report:
I have been reading with considerable dismay the planning officers’ report on the Victoria Road planning application. I am only able to read the public section of the report and I would appreciate an opportunity to read the confidential section as well. My comments are based solely on the published version.
If the Plans Panel Members accept this officers’ report, this would create a precedent in planning terms, which means that Leeds will not achieve our “Best City” health objectives. South Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse are among the most deprived areas of Leeds. Local schools are physically unable to offer a full curriculum. If these planning arguments do not succeed at Victoria Road, then arguments based on child development, deprivation and ethnicity will fail in every other area as well. I am not prepared to accept this without putting up more of a fight.
At the current state of human knowledge, one essential requirement for narrowing the physical and mental health gap between the richer and poorer areas of Leeds is to substantially increase physical recreation in the most deprived areas, and the most deprived communities. All types of physical activity are effective, but take-up is likely to be higher if recreational opportunities respect cultural traditions, and are affordable, varied and enjoyable.
It is important that planning officers and councillors understand the mountain of scientific and clinical evidence on which the previous paragraph is based. It is among the most secure conclusions in the whole of medicine. Further research might conceivably produce a work-around that delivers the same benefits for less effort, but this hasn’t happened yet, and my understanding of human physiology suggests that we might be a long time waiting for it.
It is also important that members understand the scale of the recreational deficiency in the inner city areas. It is measured in hundreds of acres. It is thoroughly misleading for officers to suggest that loss of the Victoria Road playing field might be compensated by new space on the Royal Park site. The truth is that even with both the Royal Park and the Victoria Road land in public use, South Headingley would still be massively deficient in recreational open space.
I am outraged that one defective report can undermine our entire planning policy. Planning consent is a quasi-judicial decision, and there is no easy way for members to intervene after the decision has been taken. The same does not apply before the decision is made, and I therefore request that this item is withdrawn from the Plans Panel agenda next week, so that either the Health and Wellbeing Board, or the Health Scrutiny Board (or both) can consider the planning officers’ report and make appropriate comments or amendments to it.
Our city badly needs a planning and development strategy to remedy the obscene lack of recreational opportunities that are accessible to people on low incomes in the inner city. Unless Leeds is prepared to do this, very few of our strategic health objectives are likely to be delivered. Our city could become a laughing stock, for its overweening ambitions and near total lack of achievement.
With best wishes
Thanks to Leeds University Student Chris Slade for writing a report about the battle for the sports facilities. Chris concludes:
“This contestation is created by the economic and political system, it fails to value public, recreational and creative space, instead the neo-liberal system values consumerist space higher than community facilities. Although the high level of community engagement, the facilities remain abandoned. The site should be listed as a community asset and brought into use as recreational facilities to maximise its value for a community characterised by greater social than economic deprivation.
Leeds City Council’s constrained budget and pursuit of economic growth provides abandoned space or retail units, failing to address the recognised social needs of the local population.”
Download Chris Slade’s entire report on HPOL’s fight here: Chris_Slade_Critical_report
Councillors refused the planning application on 5th December. It’s now likely that there will be a public inquiry. Thanks to everyone from the community for all the work they’ve put into this so far.
Click here to see a Yorkshire Evening Post article about the refusal.
In October residents, school-children, sports coaches, councillors, MPs and other community members united to show support for retaining the vital sports facilities and strength of feeling against the proposed un-needed houses and supermarket.
On 10th October Plans Panel decided that evidence of community use they’d been presented with meant they needed another month to be able to talk to Sport England again, and think some more, before making their decision!
ON 27th NOVEMBER LEEDS CITY COUNCIL FOUND OUT THAT SPORT ENGLAND HAD NOT CHANGED ITS STANCE.
Plans Panel will now make their decision on 5th December, 1.30pm, Leeds Civic Hall. Please come along!!
Labour and Lib Dem MPs Hilary Benn and Greg Mulholland, Leeds Councillors, school children, staff and parents, mosque and church leaders, sports groups and community leaders are getting together outside the sports field on Saturday 5th October to demonstrate the the level of support for retaining the sports facilities.
Join us there!
In a letter sent to HPOL, Sally Nickson, Leeds Metropolitan’s Head of Sport has said:
“It was good to meet you recently and discuss with council officials and University colleagues the Hyde Park Olympic Legacy proposal for reinstatement and development of some key sports facilities on a part of the old Leeds Girls High School site that would be important to local community.
…Our University has this academic year accepted over 430 additional students into the Carnegie Faculty, primarily on Sport & Exercise Science, Sport Coaching and PE courses, resulting in a significant rethink about creative delivery and programmes to acommodate academic, competition and recreational needs.
This redevelopment and the HPOL proposal may also provide a significant opportunity to enhance our student experience with great volunteering, coaching, coach education and work experience opportunities, helping both organisations with support and personal development of students and community members in the organisation and delivery of community sports programmes, clubs and activities.
Our University would be happy to explore any opportunities to work closely together to increase and expand the student experience through the HPOL proposal and therefore we strongly support the reinstatement of these sports facilities for use by the community and student population in this area.”
Please object to the current planning application if you’ve not done so already. To find out how to object click here.