University bosses have taken legal action against a group of activists who are occupying a former research facility in Headingley.
Members of protest group Leeds Community Project have occupied the non-residential areas of 6 Grosvenor Mount in a bid to halt its sale to a developer and open it up for the local community.
The University of Leeds was granted planning permission in 2013 to build seven new houses and renovate a current house on the land - a former botantic gardens and research facility with outbuildings, glasshouses and gardens.
But Leeds Community Project activists believe the site holds “many future possibilities” for food growing, nature, wildlife and as a space for educational and social events.
Understanding the sale of the site to a private investor was imminent, the protestors opened up the site on February 13 and have remained there since, holding an open day for the public there yesterday.
But the dispute has now intensified, with Leeds University taking the matter to Leeds County Court this Friday in a bid to evict the group.
One of the activists, Sam, who didn’t want to give his surname, told the YEP their protest is an “intervention”. He said: “The idea is to stop this kind of selling off of community assets to simply the highest bidder and for organisations to be more selective about who they sell to. At a time of increasing inequality and fragmentation in society, having a space open to people from all walks of life to come and be with each other is really profound.”
A university spokeswoman said they are seeking to regain possession of the property and land, which has been earmarked for much needed family housing, for the benefit of local residents and the City.
She said: “Whilst sympathetic to community initiatives, this land has been occupied unlawfully and the University is seeking to regain possession. We support many other community initiatives which offer public green space for staff, students and the local community. For example, Bardon Grange, a beautiful University-owned walled garden surrounded by woodland in far Headingley, offers the opportunity to grow organic food in a communal growing space, and we have an accessible sustainable garden at the heart of our campus.”