An abandoned piece of land which was once a magnet for anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and arson has been redeveloped to provide a new leisure facility for the Harehills community.
The Hovingham Project, developed jointly between Gipton and Harehills Neighbourhood Policing Team, CATCH (Community Action to Change Harehills), Groundwork Leeds and Leeds City Council, began with a mass clear-up of the land in 2010.
The project gained momentum following consultation with the local community and in 2011 CATCH was formed to secure and develop the disused site behind Hovingham Primary School.
The project has gone from strength to strength and now the Harehills-based charity hopes that the refurbishment, which will include a grassed area for sports, will be completed by August this year.
Chairman of CATCH, Tom Martin-Ball, 51, said: “After years of hard work and persistence we are now finally at a stage where Harehills will soon have a much-needed green space.
“As a person living in the area, you see land not being used, a lot of people, but not a massive amount of facilities.
“The idea is now to put the land to practical use and I hope that it will have a really positive impact.”
Local police chief inspector Matthew Davison said: “The Hovingham Project and formation of CATCH are fantastic examples of what we can all do to help make positive changes in the area.”
CATCH, set up in 2011, is a registered charity.
It has been at the forefront of the campaign to increase community facilities for young people in Harehills.
With this in mind, CATCH established a successful youth club run by volunteers based at The Hub, a facility provided by Hovingham Primary School.
Mr Martin-Ball added: “A lot of children are bored and are looking for things to do.
“We want young people to have opportunities and have their horizons really opened up.
“We now hope to make links with other groups, team up and give them some space too.
“Many of the kids are very keen to get involved and a lot of them hope to be volunteers in the future.”
He said it was hoped that the project would engage people from the Harehills area, adding: “We hope to make this area a hub for the whole community.”
Mr Martin-Ball stressed that he hoped more people would get involved and volunteer. “I would like to encourage people to get involved to help us make a real difference to young people.”
CATCH is actively looking for new volunteers for various roles. For more information, e-mail: CATCH.Leeds@outlook.com.