Leeds golfers fight new ‘free’ school proposal for fairway land

PIC: Alan Cross
PIC: Alan Cross
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Golf fans in Leeds fear that the hunt for a site for a new ‘free’ school in the north of the city could leave them without a practice pitch for the first time in almost a century - and pose a danger to schoolchildren based within yards of a busy fairway.

Roundhay Golf Club, based in Roundhay is a municipal course owned and managed by Leeds City Council.

As reported in the YEP yesterday, land which forms part of the course is one of two sites which is likely to be the location of a new primary school, in an area identified as a pupil places “black hole” due to a chronic ongoing shortage.

The golf club site was originally one of four possible options, but is now one of two likely locations following a public consultation.

The final decision rests with the Government.

But the local golfing community fear taking away their practice course could have a devastating impact - both on the sport locally, and on the children who would go to any new school based at the site. They have now submitted a petition to the council.

John P Jacques, president of the club, told the YEP: “The proposed site is next to our ninth fairway. It’s quite dangerous for children because golf balls can reach that site quite easily.”

He said the practice course is used daily both by club members and the public but there is “absolutely no room” anywhere else on the course for a practice site.

“We have considered this from both sides, and investigated thoroughly,” he said.

A new Leeds City Council report summarising the consultation response to the school site search says there have been “significant” objections to the golf club option and the site has ”challenging planning issues” anyway.

This is partly because it has special designation as being part of the historic Roundhay Park and “any application is likely to be met with significant objections, as demonstrated by the 138 members’ petition from the golf club”.

The report also warns that a previous application for land at Roundhay park for a Go-Ape adventure park attracted a petition with 1,493 signatures. That plan was eventually dropped.

The council report concluded: “Whilst challenging and providing significant issues for delivering a school, should the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) wish to pursue a site that responds to the local consultation and which might anticipate fewer objections through the planning process, Roundhay Park Lane East would seem the more appropriate option for the ESFA to pursue to planning application stage.”

Speaking to the YEP earlier, councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for children’s services, said: “It’s really for the Education and Skills Funding Agency now to decide where they want to submit a planning application.

“We have said that if we were to recommend one of the two, we think you’d get less objections from the public in general to the Roundhay Park Lane East site.

“As far as we are concerned, the public have spoken.”

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