A former primary school site which was the subject of a decade long wrangle between community campaigners and council bosses is finally set for a new lease of life.
Land which previously housed the Royal Park School in Queen’s Road, Hyde Park, is the subject of plans for a community garden, new multi-use games area (MUGA), outdoor gym, mini climbing wall and park with running track. Proposals being drawn up by landowner Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside department also include a performance space and inclusive play facilities for disabled youngsters.
The project will be funded by £500,000 of accumulated Section 106 cash - money which is pledged to community projects by developers - with half coming from the Headingley ward, and half from the current Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward.
If the plans get the go ahead, it will be the end of a decade long saga which started when the school closed in 2004.
After a lengthy battle, locals won the right to officially try to preserve the school building and turn it into a community hub. The Royal Park Community Consortium was eventually formed and put together an initial business plan with the help of architects. However proposals submitted by the social enterprise were rejected, and bulldozers moved onto the site in 2014. Earlier in 2009, a group of campaigners had taken over part of the building briefly after thieves stripped the roof of lead. The council was forced to go to court to evict the occupiers.
Speaking of the latest proposals, which have been drawn up after a consultation, Headingley Labour councillor Jonathan Pryor said the idea was to create a “family friendly” space.
He said the views of nearby schoolchildren, as well as young mums in homes without gardens, had been key to the shaping of the proposals.
“We spoke to 100 people in the Harolds area and not a single person was against it,” he said. “It’s one of the last bits of open space in the area, and we want to keep it open for the community.”