Victory as all benches to be reinstated at Bramley Shopping Centre after weekly protests

People in west Leeds are celebrating after it was announced that all of the benches removed from the Bramley Shopping Centre last year will be reinstated.

By Rebecca Marano
Friday, 21st January 2022, 5:47 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 5:48 pm

The benches were suddenly removed from the centre in June 2021, sparking anger from local residents.

It was a decision made by the new owners LCP, a commercial property and investment company that purchased the retail park for £10m.

Concerns were raised about about the negative affect the move would have on older and disabled people using the centre, as well as people shopping with young families.

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Bramley Councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Julie Heselwood and Caroline Gruen and local MP Rachel Reeves at a protest organised by community group A Place To Sit.

A petition was launched against the decision and garnered more than 1,000 signatures in a deputation to November’s full meeting of Leeds City Council.

With the full support and participation of the three Bramley Councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Julie Heselwood and Caroline Gruen and local MP Rachel Reeves, a local community group, ‘A Place to Sit’, held weekly protests at the centre calling for the removed benches to be put back in place.

LCP, who manage the centre on behalf of the landlord Sheet Anchor, announced that it would reinstate some of the benches at the site in August.

However, Leeds City Council (LCC) advised the owners to reinstate all 22 of the benches that were removed from the site else it would breach a 2015 planning application.

The council has now issued a Breach of Condition Notice requiring their return.

Councillor Ritchie has welcomed this latest move which will see the eight benches that have been re-installed, re-positioned to their correct locations and five further benches installed to comply with the planning conditions approved at the site.

Speaking on behalf of all three Bramley Councillors, Councillor Kevin Ritchie (Labour Bramley and Stanningley), said: “We’re delighted that through planning enforcement action, we’ve been able to secure agreement for 13 of the Bramley Shopping Centre benches to be returned and installed in their rightful places.

“Our thanks goes to the fantastic ‘Place to Sit’ campaigners, local MP Rachel Reeves and Planning Officers whose determination and hard work has spurred on the case we’ve consistently been making for the benches return.

“‘Residents just want somewhere to sit, chat to other shoppers, put down our bags for a moment or perhaps eat a sandwich purchased from one of the shops.

“We hope that London and Cambridge Properties will now engage with us constructively going forward to make the shopping centre a vibrant, successful welcoming community asset.”

A spokesperson from the A Place to Sit campaign added: "We are really pleased.

"This is the right decision and we’re delighted that LCP Group has reconsidered their approach. Residents will be pleased that people can visit their local shops again, socialise in their town centre, and work with the new owners on a more positive footing.

“Thank you to Bramley Ward Councillors, our MP Rachel Reeves, and Leeds City Council for listening and taking action.”