FAMILIES in a Leeds neighbourhood are pleading with council planning bosses not to approve plans for permanent traveller caravan pitches on nearby land, as they believe it will sabotage their chances of getting a much-needed green space and community garden for local schoolchildren.
Plans for a small travellers’ caravan site on overgrown land in Sandon Mount, Hunslet, part of an abandoned allotment plot, are to be debated by decision-making councillors at Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday.
However the privately-owned site sits directly between two bits of council-owned land which locals hope will eventually become much needed play and gardening space for local youngsters. All three plots sit directly across the road from Hunslet Carr Primary School, which has no playing fields of its own.
Martin Lumb, deputy headteacher of Hunslet Carr Primary School, said: “Outdoor learning is very important for younger children and we were looking forward to that and working with the community to develop this.
“I would ask the planning panel to just consider we are a great school, we are looking to move forward, and allowing this to happen would put that at risk.”
Pam Reed, chair of governors at the school, explained the issue is not so much the traveller caravans, but the lorries and machines associated with a simultaneous planning application for a road resurfacing business, which will be run from the same site.
“We have to make sure the children are well protected,” she said.
“The access is already very difficult, it’s a nightmare.
“We were looking at this land because we don’t have to take the children across the road, we just bring them out of the school and they are perfectly safe.”
Paul Tyson, headteacher of the school, added: “We have been hoping to get one of the pieces of land and we thought we had an agreement with the council.
“We want to set up a proper allotment and get the children over there working and growing their own food as cookery is now part of the curriculum. The only thing we are after is the land. It’s the fact that it’s in the middle, and the fact we are trying to get one of the bits of land either side.”
There have been 51 objection letters from locals to the application, but also 89 letter of support from Leeds GATE (Gypsy and Traveller Exchange) and its supporters.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s cabinet spokesman for planning, said ahead of the Thursday’s meeting that every application “is judged entirely on its own merits” and decisions are made “on a case by case basis”.