Council project to erase Leeds’s eyesores

CLOSED: The boarded-up South Leeds Sports Centre, Beeston.
CLOSED: The boarded-up South Leeds Sports Centre, Beeston.
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A £500,000 project is under way to transform dozens of eyesore sites blighting the city.

Leeds City Council has set aside the cash to improve the condition of dilapidated buildings, with the aim of bringing them back into use and redeveloping empty patches of land.

It has identified a staggering 40 sites on its hitlist so far and warned that figure would rise as further research into the problem is undertaken.

The past few years have seen a growing number of grotspots spring up across Leeds, mainly as a result of the economic downturn, as projects were shelved due to lack of funding.

The council is now pledging to tidy up its own sites as well as working with private owners of property blackspots to ensure they get a makeover.

And council bosses warned they wouldn’t hesitate to take enforcement action where necessary.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, housing and regeneration said: “People are fed up with these neglected sites and I can promise that we will no longer tolerate this.

“We understand only too well that poorly maintained buildings impact on the lives of local residents.”

Around a quarter of the sites are council owned and the rest are privately owned.

Council-owned properties include the former Ralph Thoresby School site in Holt Park, left empty after the school relocated in 2007; Harehills Community Centre; South Leeds Sports Centre in Beeston, which closed in 2010; and Bailey’s House former independent living accommodation, in Seacroft.

A council spokeswoman said interim plans were to improve the condition of buildings, remove any fly-tipping and secure sites to prevent further littering or vandalism. The council would also offer support to landowners to prepare new schemes for their sites.

She said the council didn’t want to reveal details of the privately owned sites on its list but traders based near the stalled Lumiere development on Wellington Street will no doubt be hoping that will be targeted.

Ever since the £225m scheme was put on hold in 2008 there have been calls to improve the scruffy hoardings or even grass over the abandoned site.

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