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Confirmed: TV Harrison housing plans go back before planners

Controversial plans for up to 61 new council houses on a Wortley playing pitch WILL go back before councillors again next week, it’s been confirmed. And council planning officers are recommending the proposals are approved in principle.

Leeds City Council’s outline plans to build houses on the former TV Harrison ground were first given the green light in principle by councillors on the south and west plans panel back in March.

But WLD revealed last week that the decision had been quashed on legal grounds in the High Court and campaigners opposing the plans given leave to bring judicial review proceedings over the council’s decision. The council was also ordered to pay campaigners’ costs of £6,500 plus VAT.

tv harrison ground
Community campaigners are aiming to restore the pitch, off Oldfield Lane

Council documents released yesterday have confirmed that the quashed proposals are due to be reconsidered by councillors on the same plans panel next Thursday.

There are almost 350 objections to the loss of the pitch, which used to be played on by past Leeds United stagers, and influential national body Sport England has also lodged an objection to the proposals.

But a planning officer’s report to south and west plans panel members next Thursday is recommending the plans be approved in principle and – subject to notification to the Secretary of State – final approval be deferred and delegated to the Chief Planning Officer subject to a raft of conditions. The report concludes:

“The development will provide 100% affordable housing which far exceeds policy at an acceptable quantum of housing in line with the Site Allocation Plan allocation, with a safe and adequate means of access.

“It is considered that the principle of developing the site for residential purposes is acceptable in terms of all local and national planning policies subject to the imposition of the conditions set out at the top of the report. This specifically includes the provision of on-site greenspace as well as the requirement that the existing sports facilities should be relocated in Leeds and/or local improvements to existing facilities in the locality of the site being provided.”

Members of the TV Harrison Community Action Group have, over the past 18 months, cut the grass and restored the once-overgrown pitch to allow community matches to take place. They argue the land was originally gifted to the children of Leeds in the form of a trust deed.

Action Group chairman Michael Meadowcroft last week told WLD that more can be done with the site if the council’s ‘threat of development’ is lifted. The group has drawn up initial proposals for a new clubhouse/community centre and other improvements.

Leeds City Council is aiming to build 61 houses on the greenfield site, three quarters of which is owned by the Leeds Schools Sports Association. The council maintains the plans were approved due to the overwhelming demand for social housing in the area, adding that any money made by Leeds School Sports Association would go towards new sporting facilities in the city.

The field is former home to the Leeds City Boys football team, and helped develop the careers of such stars as Brian Deane, David Batty and Stuart McCall. It was officially closed by Leeds School Sports Association in 2004 due to vandalism.

The south and west plans panel will decide the outline application at Leeds Civic Hall next Thursday, 23 September, at 1pm. All the reports, documents and agenda can be found here.

An outline application decides the principle of development – a more detailed planning application with designs and exact housing numbers would have to be submitted by the council in the future to allow work to start.

Read all of West Leeds Dispatch‘s articles on this issue here.

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