Leeds battle over new homes plan

Residents who fear that houses could be built on one of the few open spaces left in their village have stepped up their fight against the move.

Leeds Council planners have already refused outline permission for 14 homes to be built on a half-hectare paddock in Scarcroft.

Leeds-based consultants Development Planning Partnership have lodged an appeal against the decision and a public inquiry will take place in January.

Villagers have set up a Heart of the Village campaign to save the land at the junction of Syke Lane and Syke Green.

The paddock is popularly known as Mickey's Field in memory of a pony of that name who lived on the site for many years.

The land was owned by villager Vera Watson who granted Mickey free occupancy of the paddock for his lifetime.

After Miss Watson died in 1998, the parish council asked the executors of her will if they could acquire the paddock as it was the only open space in the heart of the village.

However, Miss Watson's estate has been split between various charities and the executors sought to use the site for new homes to realise its value.

Campaign member Margaret Brotherwood said: "These plans go completely against what Miss Watson stood for.

"Her family has always been most generous in supporting the village – helping to finance the village hall, and she continued the tradition.

In 1995 she gave Scarcroft Plantation, to the Woodland Trust for the use of the community.

"Everyone is certain that she would have hated these plans and what they will do. We cannot stand by and lose this opportunity to use the paddock for the village as it will never be available again".

She added: "We have no village green, no playground, no recreational space – all uses that Miss Watson would have supported, were she still with us.

"We understand the executors need to realise the value of the estate assets but it will destroy something Miss Watson would have been proud of – an opportunity to create at the heart of the village an amenity

that will be enjoyed by generations to come."

Scarcroft Parish Council chairman Paddy Procter said: "We have nowhere for our children to kick a ball or to play. Once this piece of land goes, that's it."

Harewood Conservative ward councillor Matthew Robinson said: "I can understand why the local residents are against the application.

"It is the last open space centrally for the people of the village."

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