Convenience store proposed for historic conservation area

The developer Holbeck Land is proposing to build a large convenience store in
The developer Holbeck Land is proposing to build a large convenience store in the Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse Moor Conservation Area. The store would be located on the south side of Victoria Road immediately adjacent to 63 Victoria Road. 63 Victoria Road was formerly known as Ash Grove Villa and is a listed building dating back to the first half of the 19th century. Ash Grove Villa is pictured below.

The developer Holbeck Land is proposing to build a large convenience store in 

The developer Holbeck Land is proposing to build a large convenience store in 

You can object to this application either by submitting a comment via this link, or by sending an email to :, or by writing to the Development Enquiry Centre, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington St, Leeds, LS2 8HD. If you send an email, please be sure to include your postal address.

Meeting to discuss the future of the Chestnut Avenue site

ting was held
This evening’s meeting was held at the Cardigan Centre. It was attended by four representatives of the developer; Ian Barraclough, John Barraclough, Stuart Natkus, and Matthew Fuller; five councillors; John Illingworth, Janette Walker, Neil Walshaw, Martin Hamilton and Javaid Akhtar; the community planning officer, Ryan Platten and forty one local residents.

Martin Oxley from Futsal came and spoke about how given the chance he could make the site available for the community to use for sports purposes. He said there is plenty of money out there in the form of grants. He said he’s done it before and can do it again.

Amit Roy said the School hadn’t just moved the goalposts, it had moved the entire playing field. He compared the School to locusts, determined to consume everything in our area, and to leave nothing behind.

Mavis Whitbread pointed out that there was an article in today’s paper about how people at Holt Park are complaining that they’ll be without a leisure centre for 11 months while a new multi million pound leisure centre is built to replace their old one, whereas the people of Hyde Park have never had a leisure centre, and now the only swimming pool and sports centre in the area will be pulled down if the current planning application goes ahead.

Councillor Illingworth said that life expectancy in the Holt Park area is 11 to 12 years longer than life expectancy in the Hyde Park area.

Another lady said that whereas the developers claim their development will attract families to the area, the reality is that by building on Hyde Park’s last remaining green space, existing families will be driven from the area.

In response to a promise by Ian Barraclough to include an orchard in the development, Christine McQuillan said her grandchildren don’t need an orchard to sit in and get fat, they need a swimming pool.

It was pointed out from the floor that the swimming pool and sports hall are protected from demolition by a planning law which says that before land with existing sports facilities can be built on, those facilities have to be replaced elsewhere, and the School hasn’t replaced the swimming pool and sports hall with new ones either at Alwoodley or anywhere else. Councillor Hamilton said he would look into this.

At the end of the meeting, residents voted to reject the current planning application, and to establish an action group whose aim will be to ensure that the site remains as a playing field and that the swimming pool and sports hall are made available for use by the community.

You can read a full account of the meeting here.

Public meeting to discuss an application to build on the Chestnut Avenue playing field

South Headingley Community Association is holding a public meeting to discuss planning application 12/02491 which proposes building on the Chestnut Avenue playing field off Victoria Road. The meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday the 1st August at the Cardigan Centre.

The Chestnut Avenue site has been unused since the High School moved to Alwoodley to join the Leeds Boys’ Grammar School to form The Grammar School at Leeds. Now Holbeck Land and Chartford Homes, having paid a deposit on the site, want to:

  • demolish the sports hall and swimming pool and replace them with a 3-storey building comprising of a convenience store with 8 flats above.
  • build 25 houses on the playing field with some exercise space.

South Headingley Community Association is strongly opposed to the proposal because

  • Several public meetings have already called for the sports facilities to be saved.
  • The five schools in the area need an extra 40,846 square metres to comply with the area required by the School Premises Regulations. Brudenell, Quarry Mount and Rosebank have no playing field space.
  • Locally owned shops and convenience stores already struggle

You can object to this application either by submitting a comment via this link, or by sending an email to :, or by writing to the Development Enquiry Centre, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington St, Leeds, LS2 8HD. If you send an email, please be sure to include your postal address.

Plan to remove a section of 30 year old hawthorn hedge at the bottom of Belle Vue Road and replace it with a fence


The history of the hedge


When Barratt Developments was given planning permission in October 1979 (ref 79/26/01088) to build a small housing estate at the bottom of Belle Vue Road, the planning authority imposed the following condition:

Garden/planted areas where they abut footpaths to be used by the public shall be demarcated and bounded by walls, hedges or fencing of a type or style to be approved in writing by the city council before erection or planting and together with the planting and landscaping shown on the plan hereby approved, shall be provided by the developer concurrently with the erection of the houses hereby approved or within one planting season of the commencement of building operations on the site, whichever is appropriate.

And so it was that a hawthorn hedge was planted at the top of the steep grassy bank at the bottom of Belle Vue Road. The hedge borders the entire length of the footpath known as Kendal Walk.


View of Kendal Walk with the hedge on the left


The current planning application


The developer Rushbond has applied for planning permission (reference 11/03649/FU) to replace a section of the now 30 year old hawthorn hedge with a metal railing fence (here are the details). If the scheme goes ahead, Kendal Walk will look less like a country lane, and in the Spring, Summer and early Autumn, people walking along the affected section will no longer brush against protective hawthorn fronds as they pass. Instead of experiencing this close contact with Nature, they will be exposed to the uninspiring view of the tower blocks that comprise the Little Woodhouse student village.


View of the hedge from Belle Vue Road


The argument for removing the hedge


It is being claimed that roots from the hedge are causing the clay sub-soil beneath a two storey extension to 6 Kendal Rise to dry out. It is further claimed that this drying of the sub-soil has led to subsidence of the extension. The claim is based on the finding of a lab report dated 22 September 2009 that a sample of soil taken from 6 Kendal Rise on 8 September 2009 contained roots of the sub-family “Pomoideae.” Because the sub-family Pomoideae includes hawthorn, the inference is that the roots are from the hawthorn hedge. But are they? Several of the gardens of the Kendal estate were planted with hawthorn trees, and the plan that was approved on the 16th May 1980 shows that approval was given for a hawthorn tree in the front garden of 6 Kendal Rise, just in front of where the two storey extension is now located. If hawthorn roots have been found beneath 6 Kendal Rise, it is far more likely that they originate from this on-site hawthorn tree, than from the hedge, as the hedge is further away and on the other side of a tarmac path.


Extract of plan approved 16 May 1980 with added explanation


More likely reasons for subsidence

  1. The two storey extension was built too close to a steep slope.
  2. The foundations for the two storey extension are not deep enough. Where hawthorn roots are present, foundations should be to a depth of 2.1 metres (see this guide).
  3. Covering over the side garden with the two story extension, and the back garden with a very large garage, will have caused the clay sub-soil to dry out.
  4. Raising the level of the front garden by adding additional soil to it will have helped the clay-sub-soil to dry out. And by adding even more weight to the top of the slope, the additional soil will have have increased the likelihood of subsidence, already made highly likely by locating the two storey extension on the edge of the slope.
  5. Satellite imagery taken on 30 May 2009 shows that at that time, the front garden of 6 Kendal Rise contained a very large cherry tree. This was located very close to the house itself, and has since been cut down, though the remains of its massive trunk remain visible. This tree will undoubtedly have caused drying out of the clay sub-soil.

    Satellite imagery taken on 30 May 2009 showing a large cherry tree in the garden of 6 Kendal Rise


Possible reasons to refuse this application

  1. Hedges are easy to maintain, whereas fences fall down if they are not maintained.
  2. Fences are subject to vandalism.
  3. This is a very windy hillside. Hedges diffuse winds.
  4. Hedges reduce noise.
  5. Hawthorn is the perfect hedging for nesting birds.
  6. Birds can roost in hedges. They cannot roost on metal railings.
  7. Hedges support insect life.
  8. In Spring, this hedge is covered in beautiful scented white May blossom, and in Autumn with colourful red berries, which birds such as blackbirds love to eat in the Winter when food is scarce.
  9. Hedges renew themselves every Spring. Fences become tatty and covered in graffiti.
  10. The hedge is situated at the top of a steep grassy bank. The roots of the hedge will be helping to stop the earth from falling down the bank. This is probably why the hedge was insisted upon by the planning authority as part of a soft landscaping condition when planning permission was granted to build the Kendal estate.
  11. The hedge is a planning condition imposed by the local authority on the developer when planning consent was granted in October 1979.
  12. The proposed fence would block a path down the grassy bank that people have been using for the past 30 years.
  13. Hawthorn is a native British species which can live up to 400 years. Planners often insist on native species when attaching soft landscaping conditions to planning consents.
  14. Hawthorn does not have a large root system. This may explain why it is so often planted immediately adjacent to paths and houses.
  15. The hedge has been a prominent and highly valued feature of the local landscape for 30 years. People would miss it.

Information about Hawthorn (online article)

A study shows our area needs at least 8 more tennis courts

Leeds City Council’s PPG17 audit, when it appears in December, will calculate demand for tennis courts based on already established figures for participation in the game of tennis, Lawn Tennis Association recommendations, and local population statistics.  Since these are all known now, there’s no need for us to wait until December. Using the same parameters that will be used in the city’s PPG17 audit, we can calculate now how many tennis courts are needed by local people.


Need has been assessed by :

  1. Applying the percentage of people nationally within three age groups who were found by Sport England’s Active People Survey (APS3) to play tennis weekly over a 12 month period, to the number of local people within the same age groups.
  2. Determining how many tennis courts these people need using the Lawn Tennis Association standard of one court for every 45 residents.


Hyde Park and Woodhouse

Using the above methodology, it can be seen that Headingley requires 9 tennis courts and Hyde Park and Woodhouse requires 7. Since Headingley already has 2 courts (at St Chads) and Hyde Park and Woodhouse has 6 (on Woodhouse Moor), this means that there is a need for 8 additional courts. Consequently, the 7 courts on the Leeds Girls High site cannot be considered surplus to requirements.

An alternative method of calculating the need for additional courts would be to use the finding of The General Household Survey 2002 that 1.9% of people aged 16 and above had played tennis in the previous fours weeks. This equates to 459 people in Headingley and 370 people in Hyde Park and Woodhouse (based on 2001 census figures). Since the Lawn Tennis Association recommends the provision of one court for every 45 people who play tennis, this means that Headingley requires 10 courts and Hyde Park and Woodhouse requires 7. At the moment Headingley has just two courts (at St Chad’s), and Hyde Park and Woodhouse has 6 (on Woodhouse Moor). So, using this methodology, Headingley needs an additional 8 courts and Hyde Park and Woodhouse needs 1.

Given that it’s so easy to do a PPG17 study to determine our area’s need for tennis courts, one can’t help wonder why the Planning Department didn’t include one in the report they presented to the councillors of Plans Panel West on the 12th August 2010.


General Household Survey
Sport England’s Active People Survey 3 (2008/09)
2001 Census Figures
Assessing Needs and Opportunities: A Companion Guide to PPG17

( photo courtesy of The Suss-Man (live from Albany, GA) )

Anyone for tennis ? Not if the Planning Department has anything to do with it

At the meeting of Plans Panel West that took place on the 12th August 2010, planning officer Paul Gough told elected members that the Leeds Girls High tennis courts are not needed as there’s no demand for additional tennis courts in the area. He based his claim partly on the fact that six tennis courts on Woodhouse Moor were recently converted to a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) through ‘lack of use’.

The reality is that the six tennis courts were poorly used because they were in a very bad state of repair as a result of many years of neglect. The above photograph shows the state they were in at March 2008.

When local people found out about the proposal to convert the courts to a MUGA, they expressed their opposition to councillors at a meeting of INWAC that took place on the 13th December 2007. In response, the councillors passed the following resolution :

That in respect of the multi use games area proposed close to Hyde Park Corner, North West Area Management be requested to seek clarification on the proposals, and to ensure that public consultation was carried out on any such proposal

Following the meeting, Lib Dem Councillor Penny Ewens was in touch with senior planning officer Paul Gough by telephone. Here’s an extract from an email he sent her immediately afterwards :

Further to our telephone conversation, I thought I would drop you a line to let you know my thoughts on the suggestion that the proposed MUGA should be subject to further public consultation. Basically my view is that further consultation is unnecessary and would delay what is a very worthwhile project on a site which is in need of upgrading….I think that if we start a debate on the principle of the development it could seriously embarrass the Council, mislead the local community and get us into a legal minefield. If we do not carry out this project, all it would take is one person to make a legal challenge and we would be in trouble….There is no need to prevaricate over this and, in my view, we should proceed to the implementation stage.

I hope this is helpful advice.

It really is rich for Mr Gough to use the conversion of tennis courts on Woodhouse Moor to a MUGA as justification for his claim that there’s no demand for tennis courts in our area, when he himself was instrumental in bringing about the said conversion against the wishes of local people.


INWAC minutes 13.12.07
Paul Gough’s email 29.2.08

The Planning Department tells councillors that all the historic Main School Building will be retained, when the intention is to demolish 50% of it

In a report submitted to Plan Panel West on the 12th August 2010, Chief Planning Officer Phil Crabtree claimed that under plans submitted by the school, only later additions to the historic Main School Building would be demolished. And at the meeting of Plans Panel West that took place on the 12th August 2010, senior planning officer Tony Clegg made the same claim.

When Messrs Crabtree and Clegg say that all the historic Main School Building will be retained, they are merely repeating what they have been told by the School.

The above image reveals that the plans submitted by School include demolition of the School Hall and the wings to either side of it. If you click on the image, it will enlarge and you will be able to read the School’s claim that the School Hall is a later addition. The School Hall and the wings form part of the original building opened by Princess Louise in 1906. The School Hall was visited by suffragette Sophie Jex Blake in 1907 when she described it at the prettiest school hall she had ever seen. Below are two pictures of the School Hall.

An Exercise in Coercion ?

At today’s meeting of Plans Panel West, councillors were given a mind numbing cocktail of misinformation and omission which might have fooled Solomon. And in case that wasn’t enough, there was even a bribe thrown in and a threat that the School might sue if no decision was made on the Leeds Girls High planning applications.


Senior planning officer Tony Clegg told councillors that the applications would “preserve the best of the 1905 building with loss of the unattractive later additions.” The truth is that the applications would result in demolition of 50% of the original school building.

Whilst acknowledging that UDP policy N6(i) requires that replacement playing fields be located in the “same locality”, senior planning officer Paul Gough claimed that in the case of the School, “same locality” means anywhere in Leeds, since the catchment area of the School includes the whole of Leeds. But since the School’s catchment area also includes Harrogate, if Paul Gough’s interpretation of “same locality” is correct, it would mean that the Leeds UDP allows playing fields to be transferred to another city, which is clearly absurd.

Paul Gough said that it doesn’t matter if our area loses the tennis courts on the Headingley site, because the public has never had access to them, and because they’ve been replaced by tennis courts at Alwoodley, to which the public does have access. But according to the Grammar School at Leeds website, the only sports facilities at Alwoodley that are available to members of the public, are indoor sports facilities, and these do not include tennis courts. And the indoor sports facilities are available only on a for hire basis.


Paragraph 10 of PPG17 states, “Developers will need to consult the local community and demonstrate that their proposals are widely supported by them”. Yet even though over 1,300 local people have objected to the School’s plans, planning officers didn’t mention paragraph 10 or the fact that it gives residents a right of veto on development on open space on the site.

UDP policy N6(ii) states, “Development of playing pitches will not be permitted unless there is no shortage of pitches in an area in relation to pitch demand locally.” That there’s a shortage of pitches in our area is demonstrated by the fact that the six schools within one mile of the Leeds Girls High site have just 29% of the playing pitch requirement of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 (SPRs). And yet planning officers made no mention of the SPRs. Neither did they mention the thousands of students who live in our area and who play football, rugby and tennis on our local park, because the university’s own facilities are several miles away at Weetwood and Bodington. And whilst acknowledging that the heads of five local schools have asked for all three playing fields to be acquired for the use of their pupils, senior planning officer Paul Gough sought to play down the importance of this clear evidence of demand for pitches in our area by saying that Education Leeds has concerns about the safety of pupils being transported to the Headingley site and the possibility that children could be injured by needles on the site.


Paul Gough told councillors that if they approve the applications, the School will make Ford House Garden available to the public on a ten year lease. When councillors said they didn’t feel this was for long enough, the School’s representative said that if in the future, the council approves the School’s application to build on the Victoria Road Protected Playing Pitch, they can negotiate on Ford House Garden. Clearly the offer on Ford House Garden is a bribe designed to achieve planning permission on the Victoria Road Protected Playing Pitch. What Paul Gough failed to point out to councillors is that Ford House Garden is itself a Protected Playing Pitch, and therefore, not open to negotiation.


Chief Planning Officer Phil Crabtree told councillors that the School was considering taking legal action for non determination. What Mr Crabtree didn’t tell councillors was what he should have said to the School in response. Namely, that the reason for the delay has been the School’s failure to supply a satisfactory PPG17 audit, combined with his own department’s reluctance to proceed to panel without one.


Fortunately, the councillors of Plans Panel West could see what was going on and decided to defer making a decision until after they’d been supplied with a great deal more information.


Minutes of Meeting of Plans Panel West – 12.8.10
Minutes of Meeting of Plans Panel West – 12.8.10 (musical version)

Who runs Leeds, our elected councillors, or unelected bureaucrats at the Planning Department?

This Thursday, the 12th August, the councillors of Plans Panel West led by Councillor Neil Taggart, will decide applications from the Grammar School at Leeds to build on the former Leeds Girls High School playing fields at Headingley. Logic dictates that the councillors will refuse the applications, since Leeds City Council’s Unitary Development Plan gives N6 Protected status to all three Leeds Girls High playing pitches. But factors other than logic are at work. At a meeting of a planning committee last October, senior planning officer Christine Naylor told Plans Panel West that the Leeds Girls High School playing fields are “brownfield sites” and therefore ripe for development. What Ms Naylor said is at odds with national planning guidance. Planning Policy Guidance 17 clearly states at paragraph 14, “Parks, recreation grounds, playing fields and allotments must not be regarded as previously developed land″. According to Manchester’s Head of Planning in a report he submitted last year to a Manchester City Council Scrutiny Board, “National planning policy in Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 (PPG17) provides clear guidance that playing fields must not be considered as previously developed land or as it is more commonly known ‘brownfield’ land. In planning terms school playing fields are therefore ‘greenfield’ sites that fall within the general definition and protection given to all defined playing fields.”

The Unitary Development Plan gives N6 Protected status to the Leeds Girls High School playing fields out of recognition that Hyde Park and Headingley are deprived in terms of playing pitch provision. N6 status is given irrespective of who owns pitches, or whether the public has ever had access to them. Not only does the UDP protect these pitches from development, but via policy N3 it confers a duty on the local authority to acquire them for the community should the opportunity arise. Such an opportunity has arisen now. With the girls’ school having gone to Alwoodley, the way is clear for the Council to acquire the Protected Playing Pitches at the Headingley site. But instead of trying to protect the playing fields, so that they can be purchased for the use of local people, Leeds City Council’s planning department is recommending to the councillors of Plans Panel West that they give their approval to the applications to build on the playing fields.

I call on the councillors of Plans Panel West when they meet this Thursday, not to listen to the planning department, but instead, to stand up for the policies laid down in the UDP and in so doing, to stand up for the people of Hyde Park and Headingley. In this way, they will make it clear that it is our elected representatives who run this city, and not an unelected bureaucratic elite which apparently doesn’t even know the difference between a brownfield site and a greenfield site.

The special relationship

This afternoon I went to the Civic Hall to a meeting of the city centre planning committee to object to the planning department’s handling of an item on the agenda – an application from Leeds University to build a massive warehouse-like building on the former Grammar School Protected Playing Pitch. The planning officer with responsibility for the application recommended approval of the application. I pointed out to the committee that planning officers are required to give a balanced view, one which takes into account comments from residents, but that the report recommending approval of the application had been completed prior to the deadline for receipt of comments, and before any objections had been received. I asked how the planning officer could possibly have reached a balanced view, when he’d arrived at his view well before the deadline for receipt of objections. The committee then gave its approval to the application. No one from the university spoke in favour of the application. But then they didn’t have to – the planning officer had said everything that was necessary.

The planning officer will have discussed this application many times with the university, whereas he has had no meetings with members of the public. The only opportunity for members of the public to express a view was when they submitted written comments, and in the brief three minutes when I was allowed to address the committee. For this report to have been prepared before the deadline for receipt of comments had expired, shows the planning department’s routine disregard for the wishes and needs of ordinary people and its special relationship with Leeds University – something which has been apparent ever since this council first agreed to to let the university build on the former Grammar School Protected Playing Pitch.

I wonder if what occurred today is legal.

(photos courtesy of moniqca and Matthew Everitt)