Oulton residents launch crowdfunder to fight against developers who want to demolish their homes

Residents of a former Leeds mining community are gearing up for another battle in their long-running campaign to stop developers demolishing their homes.

Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 12:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 12:15 pm

Councillors last year rejected plans by Pemberstone which would have seen the homes in their tight-knit community in Oulton replaced with a mix of detached and semi-detached houses.

Residents and campaigners claim the plans to demolish the houses would “destroy” the community in Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive that some have lived in for decades.

Councillors dismissed the application on the grounds that it would harm the community.

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Chairwoman of the Residents Action Group, Cindy Readman.

But in April, private property firm Pemberstone submitted an appeal against Leeds City Council's decision.

Now residents are appealing for support in this next stage of the battle.

A JustGiving crowdfunding page has been set up to help them with legal fees.

The message: "We beat them once, we can beat them again with your help."

Residents Cindy Readman (right) and Mavis Abbey pictured in January 2020.

It has been set up by mother and daughter duo Hazell and Jessica Field, who both live on the estate.

They said: "Just over two years ago, our landlord submitted a planning application to demolish our beloved low-income tenant estate and build new, executive housing.

"We fought hard against this, highlighting that NHS workers, teachers, carers and other low-income families have no other affordable housing options in the area."

Some residents had lived in their homes for 50 years, they said.

The pair added: "In October 2019 we won a small battle - Leeds City Council rejected our landlord Pemberstone's planning application.

"The wonderful councillors sat around that board argued that there was no justification for breaking up a community, an estate of long-time friends and neighbours who offer a vital safety net to each other.

"They also argued that to make 60-plus families homeless when there was no provision of council housing in the Leeds area would be reprehensible.

"It was a momentous decision.

"Leeds City Council recognised that community matters, even on a private housing estate."

People on the estate are "still here and we're still together", they said.

Hazell and Jessica added: "It's a support network that's proving even more important in these worrying times.

"So many people in this estate are key workers, or are themselves incredibly vulnerable to coronavirus.

"In the midst of all this, Pemberstone have submitted an appeal.

"They want to plough ahead with the development regardless. They want to demolish our historic homes. They want to break up our close community."

A Pemberstone spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that we have lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission made last October by Leeds City Council’s Plans Panel for our proposals at Sugar Hill Drive and Wordsworth Close.

"The appeal had to be lodged in April due to a statutory deadline.

"Although we requested an extension to this deadline from the Planning Inspectorate due to the pandemic, our request was declined."