A six-acre site including Throstle Recreation Ground off Middleton Park Avenue is subject to a planning application by Leeds City Council itself, which the authority claims will create “100 per cent affordable housing”, as well as a 60 extra care flats.
At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s South and West Plans Panel this week, councillors called the plans “excellent” and “well designed”.
The plans include the “reconfiguration” of the existing recreation ground with a new public park and sports pitch provided within the blueprints. Overall, the site would be made up of 60 two-bed homes, 38 three-bed, two four-bed and 16 one-bed bungalows. An extra care facility would include 47 one-bed flats and 13 two-bed flats.
New seating areas would be built around the main sports pitch, with a number of natural play zones including boulders, balancing logs and stepping stones.
Ruth Turnbull, project manager for the scheme, told the meeting: “There is a massive shortage of affordable houses across the city with more than 900 households waiting for a new family home in the ward, with an average of 264 bids per property, which the scheme will also help address.”
Commenting on the application, Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI) said: “This green space is the heart of the Middleton community.
“If the sports ground is developed, then it really is imposing quite radical surgery to the green heart of the Middleton community.
“It is fundamentally a negative impact on how Middleton looks and how Middleton feels. This particular location is one worth protecting and preserving.
“Middleton does have other locations where extra care can be built, but this is too extreme an exchange of the green part of this community. It’s the right building in the wrong place.”
“I totally disagree,” said Coun Denise Ragan (Lab). “I think it’s an excellent scheme. I think it’s a scheme that’s well needed within the area. It aims to enhance the green space and it’s giving a better pitch for people to use, and I think it’s excellent.”
Coun Paul Wray (Lab) added: “It already has the principle of development agreed, there is a need for extra care facilities, the design is well balanced. It will be 100 per cent affordable, which is frankly fantastic.
“As much as we lament the loss of green space, the actual amount of green space being lost is negligible.”
Sport England, a lottery-funded organisation which promotes physical activity, had said it was unhappy with the plans, as only the area of the playing fields already marked out as a football pitch would be replaced in the new development.
Senior council planning officer Steve Butler told the meeting that, while the council would not normally be in disagreement with Sport England, it felt that the benefits the scheme would bring would outweigh the problems.
Members of the panel voted by seven to one in favour of the plans.