How Leeds United, electric buses and new houses are part of the plan to regenerate Halton Moor estate
The cross-roads between Coronation Parade and Kendal Drive in Halton Moor on a Wednesday afternoon is quiet - almost serene.
A postman sits in the open door of his van seeing where his next port of call is and a bus driver has a crafty cigarette in between stops. A delivery driver is doing the rounds, a resident works under the bonnet of his car (in more bits than he would probably have liked on the pavement) and a couple of workers making their way home on push bikes.
A November wind cuts through the air but that is the only sound.
You would have very little clue - but just three days ago, this same area was nothing short of a riot scene for the second night running.
Fire-works shoved through letterboxes, a car and fence set alight and police and fire crews coming under attack.
The last time Halton Moor was in the media on a large-scale it was when a police vehicle was torched, in the same area, just over a year ago.
In the days that followed last weekend’s incidents community leaders, businesses and residents were quick to condemn the actions of a small minority and how the reputation of Halton Moor had been dragged through the mud.
“People say ‘oh you live on Halton Moor’ but we have a bigger garden than we have ever had, we can get a bus to town, we have got good neighbours.
“Generally young, old - people are nice. People will say ‘give us that bag’ and carry it for you.”
Mrs Patterson, aged 60, is attending a craft session at Halton Moor and Osmondthorpe Project for Elders. She has been going to activities the Project has hosted for years. Whether it be crafts, lunch club, singing, games or a day trip, as a sufferer of chronic depression, the charity is a lifeline for herself and the 600 plus members it has across the Halton Moor area.
While some activities can’t take place as usual, the organisation is carrying on as best it can to help older and isolated people on Halton Moor.
Manager Georgie Spedding says: “We are the only charity in the area, there are no other organisations like us but the other thing that has struck me since the start of the pandemic is how much neighbours have looked out for elderly service users.
“There was (incidents at the weekend)...but that is not what it is all about. I have been here for 16 years, go out on my own of an evening and never felt threatened.”
Rev Hannah Smith, of St Wilfrid’s Church says when she thinks of Halton Moor, the word that comes to mind is generosity and how the community has looked out for each other throughout the pandemic.
Popping into an estate agent at Halton they say there is a demand for property on Halton Moor and new houses have sold well.
Of last weekend’s incidents, the reaction was ‘there is good and bad in all areas’. In a cafe, a customer was quick to chip in and defend the area when I asked staff what they thought about it.
That too was the unswerving stance from local councillor Debra Coupar who grew up on Cartmell Road.
Yes, there are boarded up houses, several of them. Yes, there is crime. She does not deny the issues, but is fiercely protective of her area.
The estate is gritty, it is real life and there is a character that perhaps would not be found in the trendy cafes, cocktail bars and middle-class suburbia which sits in the shadows of city lights.
She said: “Going back in the past, Halton Moor has had its ups and downs. When unemployment was really high, it was a deprived area and people were in poverty. Transport links were not very good and the quality of housing, before Decent Standards, was falling.
“People became isolated because of poverty, unemployment, lack of services being available. They became disenfranchised from normal engagement and society. That has been the journey for some residents.”
But some residents have brought their families up there, retired and decided to stay. Meanwhile, their children who moved away and had their own families now want to move back.
The estate agent says there is demand for property at Halton Moor, especially on the back of COVID, for life away from the city centre, gardens and a community.
Coun Coupar says: “Families and extended families go from great grandparents, grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren and all live on the estate. It is wonderful, it is like the old social norm, they can support and help each other.
“A lot of residents feel extremely proud of Halton Moor, so many people have worked hard and are still working hard.”
In recent years, an academy school has been built on the estate, new houses both council and by private developers, transport links have been improved and Halton Moor got the first electric bus. Leeds United runs its KICKS programme on the estate working with young people to reach their potential both in life and sport while, Tribe Youth Group runs from Meadowfields Primary School.
Looking to the future, ideas are being discussed for a community centre, there are plans for more council houses and an Extra Care housing scheme is set to be completed next year.
Coun Coupar added: “There is lots planned to bring about change for the area and improve and regenerate. It is about doing what residents want and not doing it to them. That is how to bring residents with you.
“This is where I was brought up, it is the biggest privilege of my life to represent the area and try and improve outcomes for the people who I grew up with.”
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