Plans to build social housing on a sports pitch where past Leeds United stars learned their trade have so far received more than 300 objections.
The former TV Harrison ground, off Oldfield Lane in Wortley, has been at the centre of a community campaign to save it from development for almost two years.
Leeds City Council last month applied for planning permission to establish the principle of a social housing development, road access and associated external works on the land. Vehicle access would be off Oldfield Lane.
As the proposal is at preliminary ‘outline’ stage to establish the principle of development, the exact number of properties will be determined in a more detailed proposal at a future date, but the council has previously said up to 50 family houses would be built.
Council housing chiefs argue there is a shortfall of quality family social housing in West Leeds, with lengthy waiting lists for this type of housing. Last month it emerged there are more than 23,000 people across the city on Leeds council’s waiting list.
And earlier this month there were calls for the ‘right to buy’ scheme, where council tenants can buy their properties for a reduced price, to be scrapped amid concerns that it depletes existing housing stock.
But more than 300 local objections have so far been submitted to the council’s planning portal regarding the proposals and Sport England – an influential public body to build the foundations of a community sport system and grow the number of people enjoying sport – has also objected to the loss of a playing field.
One objection said:
“Wortley is one of the largest townships in Leeds without a district centre. Upper and Lower Wortley lack a community centre for meetings and social activities. A properly equipped pavilion on the TV Harrison Sports Ground can provide this much-needed facility.
“It would be a serious loss to the community if our own city council forced it to be used for housing.”
Other objections raise concern over access on already busy roads, the lack of community infrastructure to cope with extra housing and the loss of a sports pitch for children to play on. A petition containing several thousand names is also being circulated.
The pitch was disused for more about 15 years after the facilities – which were once used by the prestigious Leeds City Boys teams and nicknamed ‘Wortley’s Wembley’ – fell into disrepair.
Members of the TV Harrison Community Action Group have, over the past 12 months, cut the grass and restored the once-overgrown pitch to allow community matches to take place.
Cllr David Blackburn (Farnley & Wortley, Green) wrote to to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick just before Christmas, claiming Leeds Council has a prejudicial interest over the recently submitted plans to build local authority housing.
The council’s ambition is to provide at least 300 new build council homes per year. In West Leeds the council will build 12 dwellings at overgrown land at Heights Lane in Armley.
Leeds City Council’s plans can be read in full here.
Read our ongoing coverage on this issue here.