By Bobby Tait
More security and better shops are needed to turn around the fortunes of Armley Town Street, traders and shoppers have said.
Their comments come as Leeds City Council runs a public consultation into a potential £20 million bid to the government’s levelling up fund in July. Proposals include improvements to five parks in Leeds West – and plans to breathe new life into Armley Town Street.
Four early proposals for Town Street are up for discussion, including: widening of footways, reducing street clutter and greening the street with trees and plants; traffic calming and the part-pedestrianisation of Branch Road; a bus-only section of Armley Town Street and areas for pocket parks; and part pedestrianisation of Town Street.
The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund invests in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.
But traders and shoppers WLD spoke to felt the area needs more than just improved infrastructure.
Simon Johnson, a cobbler on Town Street said:
“There used to be public toilets that the council closed due to misuse. People beg for money, buy alcohol and sit on the site of the removed toilets, and the cycle just repeats.
“So a lot more police and CCTV would help. Also getting groups together and giving them money to make the existing green places better by tending to them themselves and sharing ideas about their cultures. That’s what will bring people together, activities and communication.”
Moving away from the focus on public transport and pedestrianisation, Aaron Smith, 29, told WLD:
“We need bigger and better shops. Even a Co-op or something that doesn’t already exist would be so beneficial.
“Even though there was a methadone clinic in there, Boots used to be a gem as we used to say to people, ‘we’re just across the road from Boots’. Increased police presence would be good. But since every shop on this street has had a burglary attempt in the early hours, it doesn’t seem likely that they would station more police at that time in the morning.”
Soukhat Khan, 51, backed calls for CCTV and added:
“CCTV in the area for businesses needs to increase. There are many places to buy alcohol up and down the street. We also have many barbers, as a barber myself I’ve noticed a lack of customers due to them having too much choice.”
Lisa Haines, 44, added: “It’s all about safety. Too many people are wary to go out because of what happens on a night. It’s like a jungle sometimes.”
Another shopper, Keith Kenner, added: “Armley Town Street’s got some good local shops and there are loads of positive community initiatives like the Armley ambassadors, the new pocket park and performance area and the events like the markets and the summer gala.”
A recent Armley Community Forum meeting saw criticism surrounding the lack of publicity around consultation events in parks, the lack of wider press coverage – apart from West Leeds Dispatch – and that the public were not involved in shaping the designs at an earlier stage – and calls for more community facilities in the area.
The council says it is facing a tight timescale to put the bid together.
As previously reported, the proposed bid centres around the Leeds West parliamentary constituency and is called ‘Green, Healthy and Connected’. It proposes improvements to Armley, Bramley Falls, Kirkstall Abbey Park, Stanningley and Wortley’s Western Flatts parks.
Have your say
People can view and comment on proposals for all five parks, plans for better connectivity between the parks, and the revitalisation of Armley Town Street by following this link.
Consultation will be held in May, as the bid will need to go before the council’s decision-making executive board for approval in June before being submitted to government in early July.