Kirkstall Valley: Councillor proposes new public park and visitor centre

kirkstall valley park
Will proposals for a Kirkstall Valley Park become a reality?

A local councillor is proposing to open up 100 hectares of open greenspace between Kirkstall and Armley wards – and is calling on local residents to take part and support the process.

Cllr John Illingworth
Cllr John Illingworth

Kirkstall councillor John Illingworth hopes to put together what he calls the ‘Kirkstall Valley Park’. It would be the largest public recreational project in Leeds for over 70 years, comparable in size with Roundhay Park, Middleton Park or Hyde Park in central London.

The idea revolves around a 100 hectare area ranging from Kirkstall Abbey and St Ann’s Mills through to Cardigan Fields. The area consists of woods, grass and water including the canal, river, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve and about ten hectares of agricultural land.

The plans have been floating around or the past five or six years – but Cllr Illingworth now hopes to kick on a gear and start to make things happen on the proposals.

Key to the scheme is the creation of a new footbridge near historic St Ann’s Mills, which would help connect the parkland area for pedestrians and cyclists.

Cllr Illingworth told a recent Kirkstall Forum meeting:

“The ideas are there, what we need now are more local people to come on board, have their say and start to steer this project forward. I’m convinced it could be done at relatively little cost.”

Proposals currently include:

  • Creating a new public park and visitor centre with Leeds City Council. By actively managing the park the Kirkstall Valley Park group aims to promote social inclusion, health and wellbeing and education in an enjoyable setting.
  • The new visitor centre would provide interactive displays, and promote informed discussion of climate change andĀ global environmental issues
  • There will be opportunities for walking, cycling, running, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, community food production and a wide range of sports and outdoor activities in a largely traffic-free environment.
  • Investment in new paths and footbridges would greatly improve access to the valley for communities on both sides of the river and create sustainable off-road routes linking the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Hollybush Farm, Kirkstall Abbey and Museum, Rodley Reserve, other public entertainment and sports facilities.
  • Bringing together wildlife and environmental groups, providing them with a base to work from, an exhibition space in which to display concepts and promote new ideas.

Cllr Illingworth says the proposals have the backing of Leeds Civic Trust and Leeds Canoe Club, amongst others.

To join the group, have your say on the proposals, or for more information go to the Kirkstall Valley Park website.


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