A decision on whether to allow houses and a shop to be built on former sports facilities in the Hyde Park area of Leeds has been deferred again.
Councillors sitting on one of Leeds City Council’s planning panels decided yesterday afternoon to refer new information about the community use of the site to Sport England, to see if it will sway them into recommending that the site be protected from development.
It’s a welcome last-minute reprieve for campaigners who have been calling for the facilities off Victoria Rd to be made available to local schools and the local community as part of what they call the “Hyde Park Olympic legacy”.
The national sports body has so far not raised any objection to developers’ plans to build 24 houses and a shop on the land off Victoria Rd, which used to be part of the sports facilities of Leeds Girls High School.
What the campaigners, backed by ward councillors and local MPs, are hoping is that Sport England will change its mind once it gets sight of new evidence that’s emerged about the “regular and prolonged” use local people made of the land in the past.
If they get Sport England’s backing and the development plans are turned down when they’re discussed again next month, that won’t be the end of the story by any means.
There’s still the little matter of the land being in private ownership. If it’s going to be turned into a community facility, the owners are going to have to want (or be forced) to sell, and someone’s going to have to come up with the cash to buy …
In the meantime, below is local councillor Neil Walshaw speaking after yesterday’s meeting about the campaigners’ serious disappointment with Sport England so far.
“Sport England is not fulfilling its role,” he says. “We’re going to take it further with them and really push them to take a stand for the people of Headingley and Hyde Park.”
The camerawork is dodgy, but if you want to hear the arguments it’s worth a watch.
For background to the long-running row over the planned development, start here and go backwards.