“New” plans for Thorpe Park face tough planning hurdles … and protest from east Leeds residents

Plans to change the face of Thorpe Park business park on the outskirts of Leeds are going before councillors for the first time this week. The plans have already aroused opposition from people living nearby, and it looks like it’s not going to be plain sailing to get them through the planning process either.

The Scarborough Development Group wants to see use of the site in the east of the city extended from mainly office space to include leisure,  cafes, restaurants, 25 acres of public open space and shops, including a 12,000m² supermarket (a Sainsbury’s last we heard).

Councillors are going to discuss the developer’s plan at a council meeting on Thursday 9th August. It’s what’s known as a pre-application presentation, so no decision will be taken.

An application for outline planning permission is expected to be submitted later this month, says a report prepared for the meeting.

On the face of it, there are several significant hurdles that the developers are going to have to overcome if they’re going to get the plans approved by the council.

“Major concerns” over supermarket

First off, there’s the question of changing the use of land in an out-of-town development like Thorpe Park from mainly offices to include retail, hotel and leisure.

“Many of the proposed alternative uses are contrary to both local and national planning policy so would have to be fully justified in order to be supported,” the report from the council’s planning department says.

The developers are not just going to have to justify their inclusion of a big new supermarket on the site. Planning officers aren’t that thrilled with either the location or the look of the proposed new retail units.

“Officers currently believe that … the large scale footprints of the retail units fail to successfully integrate into the grain of either the existing or proposed Thorpe Park. The inevitable parking and servicing associated with such retailers also makes proper integration even more difficult,” the report says.

“In addition to the above, there are major concerns with the location of the large
supermarket being provided in a detached location from the rest of Thorpe Park to the
east of the proposed Manston Lane Link Road,” it adds.

Who’s paying for the road?

The old Vickers tank factory

Then there’s that road – the much talked-of Manston Lane Link Road (MLLR) that every developer wants, but none apparently wants to pay for – a dual carriageway that would serve as a central spine road for Thorpe Park and form the southern end of a planned outer ring road for east Leeds – the East Leeds Orbital Road.

Getting the road built will almost certainly give the green light to planned housing developments at the nearby Vickers and Optare sites in Cross Gates, but so far construction has been stalled by wrangling between developers over who contributes what part of the costs.

“The developer (Scarborough Development Group) is proposing that the delivery of the MLLR is brought forward. This will help to unlock the remaining housing potential of the Barnbow and Optare sites in Crossgates for development,” the report says.

“Those sites should make a financial contribution to the delivery of the Manston Lane Link road, and Members (councillors) may wish to seek clarification as to how the applicant is proposing to secure the road and the financial contributions,” it adds.

Local campaign

Planning hurdles to one side, the developers already face opposition from local residents.

Alarmed at the council’s long-term plans for extensive residential development in the area, plus these plans for Thorpe Park in particular, local people  from Barwick and Scholes have set up an action group (Save Our Scholes Community Forum) which has already attracted nearly 700 members on Facebook.

From what we hear they’ve been giving the developers a bit of a rough ride in the public consultation meetings held so far, and were successful in getting a promo page for the Thorpe Park consultation taken down from the website of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Using the site as a clearing house for news about east Leeds developments from the council, the press and developers, they’re also trying to get their voice heard through forums working on the area’s local neighbourhood plan.

The group see the latest plans for Thorpe Park as just the start of over-development in the area.

“It’s the extension of an established business park that is already a blot on the countryside that’s visible from Scholes and where space is still available for let as not all units have even been occupied…”, says a statement from the group.

“Mass urbanisation”

They’re vocal too in their opposition to the Manston Lane Link Road: “Certain councillors have spoken out and said ‘the people of East Leeds want this’ – a statement which they should retract as no one wants it, not anyone we know, or anyone in the villages round about,” the statement says.

“We will not stand for this mass urbanisation of East Leeds without putting up a fight … this is a battle brought too close to home for us to just stand by and watch it happen without a fight.”

New plans?

Regular readers of this blog may recall that the Scarborough Development Group was one of two private partners working with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Council on a development “master plan” for Thorpe Park and surrounding areas.

The plan was announced to great fanfare nearly a year ago … and then sank without trace after certain “conflict of interest” shenanigans were revealed … much to the embarrassment of the council and the Chamber.

The other private partner was the GMI construction group, which is run by Thorpe Park founder Peter Gilman.

It now turns out that while the Scarborough Development Group is promoting its “new” plans for Thorpe Park – which don’t look that different from last year’s plans – GMI is consulting local people about its masterplan for new homes, infrastructure and amenities in the Scholes area.

After last winter’s embarrassment, we suspect that the council will handle this latest Thorpe Park planning application with the greatest of care.


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21 Responses to “New” plans for Thorpe Park face tough planning hurdles … and protest from east Leeds residents

  1. freedomnow66 says:

    Not being a local resident, I guess my opinion isn’t as important as local people and I understand.. my first observation would be.. how possibly can sainsbury Hope to get planning permission when they have a store already in the area???? Probably within half a mile!!!! On selby road or are they thinking of closing that store????

    • Garforth says:

      The access to the Sainsburys store is totally inadequate as anyone who has q’d on a Saturday morning to get out of the car park will know. Sainsburys have tried in the past to remodel the junctions and create new access and egress from the site,. If the Thorpe Park Application is granted the Colton store will close. I think the Thorpe Park and Manston Lane developments are a great idea its derelict land, brown field it will boost the local economies and create much needed amenities in East Leeds… I have read some stuff from SOS and their cronies, about not wanting a mixed use development in East Leeds, they are just a … well they said that in Castleford when XSCAPE was built, and in Birstall when that was built and now you cant get a parking space from Friday Morning to Sunday Night. Move with the time people not everyone wants to live in “village” thats stuck in the early to mid 1900’s!!! Some councillors (Rachel Procter) are against TP as they think it will detract from the City Centre, and reduce the appeal for high street brands wanting to “invest” in Leeds…. que sera sera!

  2. Paul Thomas says:

    I did live near this site for several years up until recently, and this development sound like a good idea on what are currently not particularly attractive fields, much of which has already been turned into ‘brown-field’ awaiting development.

    Of course all and any development nowadays sees some protest or ‘action’ group emerge to try and block it – to the point at which you wonder where anything would ever get built, especially if it involves that currently most reviled of things ‘a supermarket’.

    I have no idea what terms like ‘over-development’ and ‘mass-urbanisation’ mean, particularly in an area like this; and especially when we have a problem of what could be termed ‘under-urbanisation’, i.e. an historical shortfall in house building. But someone needs to tell the ‘Save Our Scholes Community Forum’ that they can’t dictate what is ‘visible from Scholes’.

    • As someone from Scholes, living here all my life and one of the many active Save Our Scholes Residents – when the powers that be (ie East Leeds Regeneration Board) decide to build near on a) an extra 20,000 houses to the West of you extending the Leeds City Boundry by half a mile out to the East, b) intend on extending an already huge Business Park, that still has empty units available To Let .. c) intend on building a Dual Carriageway, through Open Farmland between Swarcliffe and Scholes, behind Pendas Fields onto Barnbow destroying Ancient Hedgerows, a well established Eco -System of Wildlife that sustains itself in those fields, ie Barn Owls, Hares, Badgers, Deer, Red Kites, to name but a few …. its not just to do with the VIEW from Scholes … this is about sheer greed of Developers and the crazy antics of a man in London who thinks he can build Britain out of Economy with a False Economic Boom …. think I’m wrong … check out Spains attempt … East Leeds is nothing more than utterly destroying what has so far managed to escape the claws of the 20th and 21st Century

  3. freedomnow66 says:

    Lol Paul, good points well made!!! Although I suspect people of scholes wouldn’t think that,but that goes to the point of ure comment!!

  4. Steve R says:

    It seems to me the only people who will be laughing are Longs of Leeds, they get the road they always wanted for free.

    • freedomnow66 says:

      Why longs??? The road is the first part of the new eastern orbital road linking the M1 and wetherby road thus relieving the A6120, and benefiting many more people than longs transport!!!

  5. Scholes is not the only place to suffer, this is a National Crisis … The Goverment lapsing Building Laws and Regulations from a 1000 page manual to just 50 pages to get the Country Building is going to bring about our own National Disaster.. …I cant believe they cannot see it coming. When you’ve got the Goverment giving a house to 9 members of a Bulgarian family within 3wks of them arriving in this country .. when we have Ex servicemen and women living on the streets for goodness sake, building more houses is not the way out full stop. He should be building a Manufacturing economy creating factories and jobs for people to create goods *Made in Britain* once a house is built, its built, then what .. build somewhere else … just the size of the country cant sustain that

    • Paul Thomas says:


      As there’s so many contradictory views between your above two comments, I thought I’d tackle them together in one reply.

      First, you berate the ‘greed’ of developers and ‘the man in London’ in wanting to. … well … develop something; which will mean the destruction of ancient hedgerows and habits that have escaped ‘the claws of the 20th and 21st century’. I suppose it depends on what you put a higher priority on: the interests of wildlife or of people. If you’re so keen on hedgerows and wildlife maybe you should be campaigning for Scholes itself to be flattened to make room for more nature and less houses.

      Yet, in your second comment, you rightly – in my view – make the point that we should be building a manufacturing economy to create goods and jobs – which would require both the initiative of ‘the man in London’ as well as the destruction and displacement of wildlife you’re obviously so passionate about. However, you don’t see house building as part of that economy – evening when we’re apparently stepping over ex-service men and women in the streets.

      Housing building can’t get us out of recession, only investment in industry can do that, but it is still a necessary part of that economy that can also help stimulate manufacturing. There’s been an historic shortfall in house building in this country for at least 2 decades – in large part as a result in the growth of bureaucracy and greenbelt. Only 10-11% of Britain is built on. That leaves plenty more room for millions of homes to be built to meet the needs of its citizens – whether ex-servicemen, immigrants or whoever.


      • oludenizdollz says:

        Ther of course is a need for house building but take a closer look at need. The need is for smaller properties with good public transport links and in particular Social housing. This need can be met by utilising brownfield sites and converting the many empty buildings and properties Leeds City Council are sitting on.
        This development on East Leeds and Scholes is about servicing the building of a new road to take pressure off the existing link road. The building of this road will ‘release the spoils’ (ie land for building) to be divided between Scarborough Development Group, LCC and the house builders /Development company (GMI).
        The house builders ‘like to spit houses out because that’s how they make their money’ . I quote from the developers own presentation to Leeds City Council.
        This development is not about meeting need it is about feeding greed !!!!!!

  6. Paul Thomas says:

    There seems to be a lot of naivety around today about the nature of capitalism – that businesses exist to make a profit; the fact of which is now simplistically termed ‘greed’ by every pseudo-anticapitalist, green and Guardianista. But to make their ‘greedy’ profits such businesses also have to meet some need. In terms of house building, that need isn’t just for smaller properties but for all types – in both the public and private sector. Brownfield sites alone won’t meet that need. They are generally more awkward and expensive to develop on, which is one reason why most inner city brown-field-built flats and houses are labelled ‘luxury’ due to the price you pay for bog standard and, often, already pokey accommodation.

    House builders may ‘like to spit out houses because’, obviously, ‘that’s how they make their money’. But unfortunately in the last two decades they haven’t been able to ‘spit out’ enough new homes to meet the needs of the population due to the increase in bureaucracy, regulation and greenbelt – leading to the over-inflated house prices and endless DIY programmes on TV.

    • It’s complicated, Paul. Despite the fact that most of the houses we live in were once fields that were sold to developers who went through planning regulations to build, we still have a distrust of land-owners, developers, planners and house-builders. And of the system as it affects our lives. Why here? Why not there?

      Part of the problem is that we have to take so much stuff on trust: that the houses have to be built in the quantity we’re told at the rate we’re told; that the council’s designation of land for house building is accurate and fair; that developers really are struggling to make construction “viable” in these risky times; that we need a streamlined “business-friendly” planning system to get things moving; that local communities really are going to be able to have a say about what gets built where; that brownfield sites aren’t the solution; that land-banking isn’t an issue etc etc

      How are we supposed to know we aren’t being sold a pup?

      Faced with all this stuff – and the taboo of the greenbelt that seems to have got lodged in the national psyche since the 1960s – it shouldn’t be surprising that our first reaction when the planning notice goes up on the lamp-post at the bottom of our street is a defensive (reactionary) one .

      • Paul Thomas says:

        It’s really not that complicated. Whenever anything is going to be built in this country some ‘[in]action group’ springs up to block it. It’s the Pavlovian response of our green-tinged times. Nature is put before the interests of people, and god-forbid if it includes a supermarket or new houses in sight of …well … other, already existing, houses. But of course it’s always given a pseudo-radical edge – against ‘the man’ and ‘greedy’ businesses. It’s not complicated at all. It’s simplistic.

      • I suspect that nature is often just a metaphor/symbol of the conservative stuff we carry round in our heads – the bits of our lives that we treasure and want to keep the same – like our streets, fields, views, pubs, villages etc.

        There is a real issue, I think, with ‘the man’. Not necessarily the same one that we used to rail about in the 60s, but his remote, remote cousin (if you get my meaning), who formulates all the questions, has all the answers, and makes decisions that change our lives.

        And there’s a real issue in our times with greedy business, though I admit it’s as convenient and unfair to lump all businesses in with each other these days as it was back in the days of real pseudo-radicalism.

        For an example of what happens when ‘the man’ and business cast their eyes on east Leeds click here

      • Garforth says:

        The “man” also provides employment, jobs, homes and education!

  7. oludenizdollz says:

    Regardless of opinion on regeneration/urbanisation and the difference between a house building programme based on need rather than greed I am certain very few like the way that Leeds City Council treat us with such disrespect. The consultation on the Thorpe Park development insults my intelligence and that of every citizen of East Leeds.
    They ‘consult’ us on ‘The Green Park ‘ and make it sound like SDG, like some great philanthropist is gifting a new park to the citizens of East Leeds. !
    There is no mention of the huge new supermarket, chain fast food outlets and extra office space …. that will turn that section of Colton/Crossgates into a J27 .
    There is no mention of the key factor that this development plays in the urbanisation planned for the swathe of green and pleasant land that stretches from Garforth through Barwick and Scholes to Whinmoor and Thorner.
    If you are going to ‘consult’ then consult do not treat the citizens of this area with such disdain……

  8. Steve R says:

    I agree Wth everything you say, leeds city council are all getting back handers from the developers, there is loads of brown land in leeds to use, leave green land once it’s gone it’s gone forever. Just look at Colton empty business buildings we don’t need any more.

  9. ChrisGD says:

    People can’t really manage without nature, it keeps us sane and we shouldn’t have to travel far to enjoy it. Thorpe Park doesn’t need expanding, why build more units that will be as empty as the existing ones? The wildlife needs a home and this area supports some locally scarce species, great crested newts for one.
    Having visited the area only yesterday I was astonished to find a lack of water in the pond where the newts thrive, considering the amount of rain we’ve had this year leads me to believe someone is draining it in preparation for the development. I’ve enjoyed the countryside in this whole area since I was five years old and at forty four I still do, I want to keep on doing so.

  10. Paul Thomas says:

    It’s always a rare species of newt. If they’re so fecking rare, how come people keep finding them whenever any type of development is suggested?

    • Garforth says:

      The Newts “law” is a brussels thing, the Great Crested Newt are rare in Europe, but relatively common in Britain, however as we are now governed by Europe we are required follow the same “guidance”

  11. Why are we ruled by Europe? Who agreed to that. Leeds City Council always take back-handers. But whos to blame for having a Labour council? YOU ARE. You keep voting them in. Just because your dad did and his dad did.

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