Rival campaign groups in new row over future of former Leeds primary school site

Mohammed Haneef Yaqub , left, and campaigners in Hyde Park claim Leeds City Council has ignored their pleas for an indoor sports centre to be built on the site of the former Royal Park Middle School site.
10th February 2017.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Mohammed Haneef Yaqub , left, and campaigners in Hyde Park claim Leeds City Council has ignored their pleas for an indoor sports centre to be built on the site of the former Royal Park Middle School site. 10th February 2017. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

A row has broken out between two groups of campaigners who both want community facilities on the site of the former Royal Park school.

As reported yesterday, Leeds City Council’s parks department is drawing up £500,000 plans for an open park, play area and running track on the Queen’s Road site.

But Mohammed Haneef Yaqub, mosque secretary for the Leeds Makkah Masjid in Hyde Park, said community members have been campaigning for many years for an indoor sports facility in the area that all members of the community can use.

Mr Yaqub claimed local councillors have ignored the community’s requests for a roofed facility, and instead are set to spend £500,000 on a park that he says the majority of local people have not asked for.

“We have expressed our opposition to this and they are going to spend £500,000 on a peace park on that site,” he said.

“There are no multi-purpose indoor sports facilities in the area for the local people.”

Mr Yaqub said the concerns were raised at a meeting with local councillors in December. A petition against the park plan has more than 250 signatures.

Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab/Headingley), said the proposed new facility would consists of a a community garden and a seven-a-side football/basketball fenced pitch along with an outdoor gym and play equipment.

He said results of a public consultation about the site carried out 18-months ago resulted in plans being drawn up for green space plus better sports facilities. The plans have been drawn up but not submitted.

Referring to the request for indoor sports facilities at the site, Coun Walshaw said: “They want something that we can’t financially provide at the moment.

“We are talking about a significant sum to build a sports hall, well over £1m and then you have running costs and staffing costs.

“We want to provide them with what they want, but we just can’t do it right now.

“It’s the worst time in the last 30 years to ask the council to develop new facilities. We have closed lots of facilities across the city. We can’t build a sports centre right now.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman, said: “We have been working closely with the local community to create a space on the former Royal Park School site which meets the needs of as many local people as possible and are happy to continue to do so.”

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