Comment: My first Armley Forum meeting connected me to what’s going on

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The former Theaker Lane clinic site in Armley. Photo: Google

By Jean Hollings

I’ve lived in Armley 30 years plus and never felt the urge to go to a local forum meeting. I felt that I wouldn’t be listened to or people don’t really care about the area. So when a plea went out to report on a meeting I should have attended at some point over the years but have not, I thought ‘go on then’. 

Arriving early at Armley hub there were a handful of people in the open plan upstairs foyer.

My initial thought was ‘have I got the right night?’ By 6.55pm the seats were occupied and the room was quietly buzzing. 

Cllr Jim McKenna (Lab, Armley) opened the meeting and welcomed us all and acknowledged that they were new faces in the audience (oh, good – I wasn’t the only one then!)

The police were the first to present their statistics of crime including arson, burglary, theft, robbery, shop lifting plus theft of cars and motor vehicles, They discussed how many suspects they had identified for each crime. 

Questions from the floor regarding e-scooters and Gotts Park Golf Club. After discussion it was agreed that an invitation to the Mayors office to invite the deputy Lord Mayor Alison Lowe who sits on the Police committee would be sent. Cllr Lowe would have the opportunity to discuss what can be done and how the Police and their community neighbourhood teams could be supported. 

The Police did reiterate to report every crime to help identify hotspots and where services could be targetted. 

A housing update followed. The local manager stated that in Armley they had 2,500 council properties. He discussed the delay of the heat pump source system at Burnsall Grange which has bee delayed to 2025/26 due to financial and budget constraints. 

Anti-social behaviour teams have currently 18 active cases and any concerns should be reported to the housing office. 

They are several rough sleepers in the area where the team are working with other agencies to support people as required. 

The council are doing walkabouts in the area to identify issues and members of the audience were invited to join them if they would like to by booking at the local housing office. 

It was discussed that the annual tenancy contact post covid reviews now in year 2 are 65% ahead of schedule where 1000 have been visited. With a 6.5 day turn around they have 32 properties ready to view. 

The housing now have a local poertal where tenant can access their rent payments and report any issues. Their next system update wil include if the tenant will not be available for a planned repair. Apparently there is a Youtube video on their portal. 

Questions from the audience included rough sleepers in the high rise flats and parking around Town Street, Theaker Lane and the flats. 

Armley Town Street is in need of investment. Photo: Google

The highways department were the next to step up and present. Their team are currently engaging with local stakeholders to identify how to make the Armley Town Street area better – looking at businesses, people and buses.

They are currently unable to progress with their proposals to improve Town Street’s road layout due to the forthcoming May local elections. Comment on an improvement scheme for Armley Town Street will be available at their future open consultation meeting and also online. 

A lively debate followed, which included reflections on Morley High Street changes. 

A planning update regarding the former Theaker Lane clinic was the next agenda item. 

Plans for 18 apartments with six parking spaces have been submitted. The town centre location has a presumption that the tenant will use public transport or to access the city centre. Buyers will be aware of the concerns of parking overspill and the traffic reinforcement orders in the local area. The council are keen to make use of the site as its been closed for over 20 years.

The former medical centre on Theaker Lane. Photo: Chaotic Footsteps

Also discussed was the former public house – The Royal. There are plans for two retail units on street level and an eight-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) on the first and second floors. These are being looked at due to current regulations they will be deemed insufficient. It was mentioned about the highway restrictions and conservation orders in the area. 

Questions from the audience included the former Upstairs Downstairs site and the former Brooks laundry site. 

The chair of the Armley Commons Right Trust introduced himself plus other trustees and stated there is an open meeting next Thursday, 7pm at Interplay on Armley Ridge Road.

An audience member encouraged people present to spread the word about potential changes to Armley Town Street. 

The meeting closed following a ‘thank you’ to Cllr McKenna for his support during his long term of being a ward councillor, which ends in May He stated that he will keep in touch and be at future meetings. 

The next meeting will be in about six weeks – watch this space for details. The chair of the meeting was not identified due to the local elections. 

Yes, I did learn things about local organisations that I wasn’t aware of and their input to day to day activities and lives of Armley people.  Yes, I was surprised that people were genuinely passionate about Armley. Yes, I would encourage people to go to these meetings to learn more and be involved in future decisions. I didn’t feel that I was forced to join in but was happy to listen to views. 

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