Campaigners wanting to preserve a former Leeds school playing field for community use are fighting another day after councillors delayed a decision on redevelopment of the land.
As reported in the YEP yesterday, locals in Headingley want to keep the Victoria Road site in Headingley, part of the former Leeds’ Girls’ High School, as a local activity and fitness hub,
Their campaign suffered a blow after Leeds City Council upheld an appeal by the landowner the Morley House Trust, allowing the fields to be taken off the community asset register.
Had it stayed on the register, locals would have had first dibs on the land. However the decision to uphold the appeal meant development restrictions were lifted.
However at yesterday’s meeting of the Plans Panel South and West, a planning application for a retail and housing development on the site was deferred for a month.
Headingley Labour councillor Neil Walshaw said the panel had acknowledged that “lots of new evidence had been brought forward” and that allowed for a welcome one month reprieve.
“We are very pleased D-Day has now become November,” he said.
He acknowledged that the community asset bid was now lost, but it is “the detail that matters”. He added that if the application is refused next month on the basis of the new evidence, new emerging planning legislation could offer renewed hope for the community’s hopes.
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, had earlier called on Leeds City Council to reject the plans to develop the playing field and adjacent swimming pool.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he criticised the authority for overturning its original decision to accept the site as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), a power given to councils through the 2011 Localism Act.
“This is an already densely populated area and to try to shoehorn yet more housing in here is not acceptable,” the MP said. “More importantly, there is a lack of sports sites and grass playing pitches in particular.
“This is the only chance local children and local schools have of obtaining such facilities.
“If the Olympics legacy means anything, the idea of concreting over this site should be unthinkable.”