Leeds sports field campaign ‘won’t give up battle’

Campaigners next to the now demolished sports hall. PIC: Steve Riding
Campaigners next to the now demolished sports hall. PIC: Steve Riding
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CAMPAIGNERS who failed in their bid to preserve a former school field for use by local families have vowed to keep lobbying for better health and fitness facilities for their inner city community in 2015.

The YEP reported last year that planning chiefs had reluctantly approved plans for housing and a supermarket on the former Leeds Girls’ High School site on Victoria Road, Headingley. The decision followed a seven year battle by campaigners and ward councillors to retain the land for use by local families in Headingley and Hyde Park.

An 11th hour bid by campaigners to get the school field part of the site listed as a community asset did not convince councillors who, despite expressing sympathy with locals, said their hands were effectively tied by potentially costly legal implications for the authority of refusing the application.

Campaigners have now asked the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate the planning decision.

John Davison, founder member of the Hyde Park Olympic Legacy (HPOL) campaign group, said 2014 had been “a hard year for the people of Hyde Park” with “crushing defeats” in their bids to save both the school field and the Royal Park Primary School building. He said the recent bulldozing of the sports hall was like “a community dream being demolished”.

Speaking at a gathering of campaigners, Sue Buckle, who has helped spearhead the campaign, said: “The two points of this gathering were to mark that it’s gone, and to focus on the crucial fact that our area and community still needs sports facilities. We still have five primary schools with no sports fields, and the biggest sports hall has just been demolished.”

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