The company behind Tong Garden Centre now has permission to build a brand new garden centre and soft play area at the former Acanthus Golf Club off Thorpe Lane in Tingley
This is despite some councillors claiming that the scheme could penalise those on low incomes who do not have access to a car, as it would be too remote and currently sits on the green belt.
But a meeting of Leeds City Council’s South and West Plans Panel approved the scheme after a document, written by council licensing chiefs, had recommended the site be approved in principle.
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Commenting on the application, panel member Coun Paul Wray (Lab) said: “It is economically excluding those who cannot drive and have low incomes. We would be on the wrong side of history very quickly – the lack of ambition we would have for our city is frankly disappointing.”
Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI) said: “I know this area well. It’s a pity we didn’t have a site visit because, if you think this is the best of green belt, you are mistaken. It is a poor quality of green belt.
“You can see what an absolute shocking state of affairs it is in. This site has needed tidying up for the best part of 30 years. I think this will improve things.
“On balance, this is a site we need to support.”
He added any approval needed “strong” conditions to help employ those living close to the site where there are high levels of unemployment and universal credit.
Council planning officers had suggested the developers contribute £150,000 for “off-site biodiversity improvements within the city”, a “travel plan” and initiatives to employ local people.
Coun Dawn Collins (Con) said: “I will be voting against this because I think we can do better.”
Plans submitted to the council last year include a garden centre with a restaurant, landscaping and car parking spaces for 612 vehicles. Outdoor adventure play areas are also included, which the applicant claims can help “tackle childhood obesity”.
The panel voted in favour of the proposals.