Campaigners trying to save a former private school’s playing fields for the community have suffered a blow after the council rejected their bid to get the land permanently listed as a community asset.
It means the Victoria Road site in Headingley, part of the former Leeds’ Girls’ High School, is now free of development restrictions, and could soon have houses and a supermarket built on it.
Leeds City Council had agreed to put the playing fields and indoor sports facilities onto its community asset register back in May, offering them protection from development. But following an appeal from the landowners the Morley House Trust and the Grammar School at Leeds, the council has announced that it will remove the pitches from the register.
The planning application for a retail and housing development on the site will be decided by planning chiefs at Leeds Civic Hall today.
Locals, who turned out in force on Saturday for a final show of solidarity, say it’s a “tragedy” for the community.
Headingley Labour councillor Neil Walshaw said: “The tragedy here is why this site? Why take this away from my community? Especially when we have five schools without a playing field. Leeds has so many other development sites that could be used so its particularly tragic to see this one threatened.”
He added: “I would like to appeal to Morley House Trust, to Grammar School at Leeds, to drop these plans, to work with the local community and build a real lasting legacy of longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives for local people.”
Coun Martin Hamilton (Lib Dem, Headingley) also criticised the decision by the council to uphold the recent appeal.
“This is in an area of the city where such provision is lacking and where exercise related health problems are all too apparent; the loss of these well-used facilities will only exacerbate this problem.,” he said.
“Nonetheless, the council does at least accept that the site has been used for sporting purposes by the local community in recent years, which strengthens the argument that the site has intrinsic value for sporting activity.
“I will be calling for plans panel to turn down the application for housing and retail at Thursday’s meeting.”