By John Baron
Plans to transform sports facilities at Woodhall Playing Fields into a ‘Parklife’ community hub have been approved by Leeds council – more than two years after first being submitted.
Woodhall Playing Fields will host a new community sports hub with changing facilities, a community cafe, reception area and meeting rooms with associated car parking.
The cafe would have views over the football pitches and the meeting rooms would open out into the main cafe via movable walls.
Three floodlit artificial grass pitches enclosed by metal ball-stop fencing will also be built off Woodhall Lane, along with two new children’s play areas. The scheme is part of the national Parklife initiative to improve football pitches and facilities.
The existing boarded-up Woodhall Sports Pavilion, which hasn’t been in use since a fire damaged part of it in 2009, will be demolished. The new facilities will be in use between 9am and 10.30pm.
A document accompanying the planning application states:
“This proposal will deliver wide-ranging benefits at Woodhall Lane Sports Ground, for local community clubs and groups; significantly improving the quality and quantity of sport facilities available in the local area.
“The overall aim of the project is to engage as many people in physical activity as possible through the creation of the AGPs.
“Improvements to existing sports facilities will encourage participation in sport and leisure activities and in turn bring much needed health benefits with opportunity to generally improve quality of life for people engaged with the project.”
The plans were submitted in January 2020 and underwent revisions during that period. The changes include reducing the size of the large pitch in the southwestern corner of the site and removing security fencing around the grass pitch, which fronts Woodhall Lane.
The scheme has also looked to improve the biodiversity of the site and improve the footpaths around the play equipment facing Woodhall Lane.
There were two objections and three letters of support for the scheme.
18 teams from Calverley, Farsley, Pudsey and Stanningley currently use the sports pitches.
A planning officer’s report approving the project, subject to a raft of planning conditions, concluded:
“The principle of the scheme on this site can be considered appropriate and it will provide wider benefits to the locality and city. The proposal will provide a development which is visually appropriate to its setting and wider locality, paying due care to the design and scale of the existing building to the wider site and streetscene.
“The pavilion, pitches and associated infrastructure will preserve the amenity of the occupants of neighbouring residential areas and will not have a detrimental impact on the amenity of the users of public vantage points.
“It is acknowledged that the proposal will have an impact upon the biodiversity and ecology of the site, but the scheme seeks to diversify the landscaping across the site and enhances the wider Woodhall Lake area to compensate for the loss of some habitats across this site. Overall, the scheme has significant well-being/community benefits which are supported by local and national planning policies.”
What is Parklife?
Parklife is a national programme funded by the Premier League, The Football Association (FA) and the Department for Culture Media via Sport, Sport England, the programme is delivered by The Football Foundation – the national charity of these funders.
It aims to address a chronic shortage of good quality pitches where according to FA data, only one third of grass pitches in England are of adequate quality.
The Woodhall Lane site was put forward to be one of four hubs to be developed across Leeds after a consultation identified a lack of opportunity and open space in Pudsey, Calverley and Farsley. A further public consultation event was held just before Christmas 2019 in St James’s Church, Pudsey.