A public inquiry begins today into a long-running row over whether land next to an expanding Yorkshire primary school should be registered as a village green.
It is the latest move in the ongoing saga of Gledhow Field behind Gledhow Primary School in north Leeds which agreed to expand and take on more pupils to help tackle a ‘black hole’ in primary school places in the area.
But after fencing the field off in 2015, ready for the planned expansion, the school then become embroiled in a battle with local campaigners who want to preserve the land for community use.
Friends of Gledhow Field’s application to get the fields listed as a village green will now be heard by an independent inspector at the inquiry in Leeds which is due to last six days.
Planning chiefs at Leeds City Council made the decision to go to a public inquiry after admitting a it had a “conflict of interests” as landowner, local education authority and Commons Registration Authority, which registers village greens.
The governing body of Gledhow Primary School and Leeds City Council have already objected to the village green application and both are expected to give evidence during the inquiry.
Local resident Paul Sellars, of Friends of Gledhow Field, will be speaking on behalf of campaigners who argue the land has been used by families from the local community for recreational activities for more than 20 years – the statutory time limit for applying for village green status.
In the directions to parties before today’s hearing, planning inspector Alun Alesbury said: “It should be particularly noted that this inquiry...is not concerned with matters or views relating to the provision of new or expanded education facilities.” After the inquiry, the inspector’s report will go Leeds City Council for a final decision, in line with procedure.