Leeds Council in talks to save Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve from development

Leeds City Council is currently “in talks” with the owner of Kirkstall Valley Nature reserve to save it from a potential sale, according to a senior Leeds politician.

By Richard Beecham
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 11:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 11:16 am

It follows campaigners in west Leeds expressing their “disbelief” at the decision to put part of the wildlife park up for auction, with a guide of just £500.

Kirkstall Valley Nature reserve, which sits on the site of the former Kirkstall Power Station, is thought to be home to more than 130 species of plants and 65 species of birds.

Owners of the site National Grid had recently placed it up for auction via Allsop’s, which listed the 30-acre site, which appears to take up roughly half of the reserve, with a guide price of just “£500+”.

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve (PHOTO: Mark's History)

But this afternoon, Leeds City Council executive board member Coun Fiona Venner (Lab) claimed the council was in talks with National Grid to potentially take control of the site and save it from possible future developments.

She posted online: “I posted about this yesterday as it caused great consternation amongst the local community that National Grid had put this land up for sale.

“Good News! The council has a line of communication open with the vendor about the council potentially purchasing the land. We are currently undertaking due diligence.

“Obviously, this is a legal process and I will update again when I can. But if we can go ahead this will keep the Nature Reserve as community space!”

According to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the site’s meadows sustain a “myriad of insect life including the small copper butterfly”, as well as young woodland with fruit-bearing shrubs attracting feeding birds, while ponds and ditches host populations of toads, frogs and newts.

More than 130 plant species have been recorded on site along with 65 species of birds.

Speaking earlier today, local Armley councillor Lou Cunningham (Lab) had said Yorkshire Wildlife Trust had a long term lease on the site, but did not know whether this lease has been or will soon be expiring.

“I found out on Saturday when a resident phoned me about it,” she said. “I am very concerned and in disbelief. If something like this was happening I would have thought we would have had some communication.”

“We are hoping that we can facilitate some kind of arrangement via a long term lease. They have a few sites up for auction around the country.”

According to auctioneers Allsop’s, the auction is currently listed to take place on November 9.

National Grid said it was “normal company practice” to continuously assess its property portfolio.

A statement from the company added: “National Grid own the land at Kirkstall, Leeds which is currently part of the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve. Auctioneers Allsop, have been lined up to put the land through their auction in November.

“Both the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Leeds City Council have been advised of the plans to go to auction.”

Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have been contacted for a comment.

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