By John Baron
Plans to have a traditional funfair at this year’s Kirkstall Festival will go ahead as planned – after work on vital flood defences threatened to thwart the idea.
Kirkstall Festival volunteers only found out recently that bosses at the Flood Alleviation Scheme were planning on building a compound in the area where the funfair would normally go in Kirkstall Abbey Park.
They feared the lack of a funfair – or a smaller funfair – would affect attendance at what promises to be the first full festival for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However an urgent meeting yesterday between festival organisers, Kirkstall’s councillors and representatives from the flood allocation scheme and construction company BAM resolved the problem.
Councillor Fiona Venner (Lab, Kirkstall) said that – subject to planning consent being granted in June – there will be a much smaller compound just inside the Abbey grounds at the entrance nearest to De Lacy Mount. She added:
“This will hold welfare facilities and there will be some minor archaeological work carried out near the Goit. This will be a small, fenced off area that will not conflict at all with Kirkstall Festival. This means the fairground will be in its usual spot and there will be no disruption or reduction in festival stalls or activities.”
After the festival, Cllr Venner said the bigger compound will come on site and be finished well before Kirkstall Festival 2023. If, for any reason, planning is delayed, work on the FAS at Kirkstall Abbey Park won’t start until after the Festival.
Speaking to councillors on the inner west community committee last Wednesday, Kirkstall Festival chair John Liversedge raised concerns about the lack of communication from the flood alleviation scheme team.
He told councillors that he supported the need for flood defences but added:
“They were supposed to start work at Kirkstall Bridge in the next couple of weeks but I believe they cannot start work at the moment due to planning issues, so they want to move further up the valley.
“It is not right that nobody knew about this, we’ve been planning the event since last October. It’s just not on that we’ve had such short notice.”
Councillors on the inner west community committee had agreed to write in support of the festival ahead of yesterday’s meeting.
A full Kirkstall Festival will be held on Saturday, 9 July 2022. More details on the event will be posted here.
The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme sees flood defences offering one-in-200-year protection being built along the Kirkstall Valley and into Apperley Bridge. They’re being put in place after the River Aire broke its banks on Boxing Day 2015, following businesses along the valley and the city centre.West Leeds Dispatch