Royal Park Primary: Leeds school facing d-day

The future of a former inner city primary school that has stood empty since it closed over six years ago could be decided this week.

Leeds City Council's Executive Board will on Wednesday consider three offers that have been made for the former Royal Park Primary School in Hyde Park.

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A report to the board, which does not reveal the names of the organisations behind the bids, sets out details of the proposals.

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Offer A would see the Victorian building retained for a range of community uses, B converted mainly for housing and C refurbished for offices, workshop space and community use.

Recommendations about the disposal of the building are contained in a confidential part of the report.

Campaigners in Hyde Park and Woodhouse have been pressing for the former school to be retained for community use. The council has previously indicated its support for community use.

In November 2009 a group of activists, concerned about the deteriorating state of the vacant school and fearing it could be demolished, illegally occupied the building for three weeks, clearing away debris, carrying out simple repairs and holding a number of community events.

The council took court action to have them evicted and costs of 2,948 were awarded against some of the people who had staged the occupation.

The council's Inner North West Area Committee has asked that the costs be waived but the report recommends they be pursued.

It says: "Although the trespassers claim to have had the best intentions when occupying the building, there were significant health and safety issues regarding their occupation.

"Seeking these costs will act as a deterrent to others who may consider similar action in future."

The recommendation to pursue costs has dismayed area committee chairman Coun Ben Chastney (Lib Dem, Weetwood) who said: "The whole committee was clear that chasing these fees would be deeply unjust and so I am really disappointed that the Executive Board is being asked to reject our proposal to waive them.

"I would urge all members to look carefully at this case."

Kim Leadbeater. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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