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Paxton Hall listed as asset of community value as campaigners seek to establish Taoist temple

By John Baron

Paxton Hall community facility on Kirkstall Lane has been added as an asset of community value, council documents have revealed.

The building is owned by registered charity Paxton Horticultural Society.

In essence, becoming an asset of community value gives communities a right to identify a property that is believed to be of value to their social interests or social wellbeing and gives them a fair chance to make a bid to buy the property on the open market if the property owner decides to sell. 

Currently, only eligible community groups, local parish councils or local neighbourhood planning forums and charities can nominate.

More than £117,000 has so far been donated towards a £150,000 online crowdfunder to turn the building into a Taoist temple as the International Taoist Society (ITS) seeks to establish a permanent home there.

They want the building to be an international centre for the Taoist community in Europe and want to host workshops, events and masterclasses. The organisation has been running classes in Leeds from a variety of venues (church halls, parks, community centres and schools) for over 60 years.

Campaigners, who fear the site might be sold and developed, argue the hall has changed from being a building solely to serve horticulture groups in the 1960s/70s to providing a wider use to a number of community groups in more recent years.

But ITS is concerned the building may be sold to a property developer.

Current owners Paxton Horticultural Society had objected to the right to buy nomination, saying that several groups who have previously used the hall have left to seek alternative accommodation and the hall is currently under-utilised.

They argued that all the groups who have vacated have found readily available alternative accommodation, including the nearby Kirkstall Leisure Centre.

However council officers did not accept this as a basis for an objection to the nomination.

A council report released this week said: “It is clear from the information provided that Paxton Hall has had a current and recent use by community groups and is an important venue within the local community.”

Councillor Fiona Venner (Lab, Kirkstall) has confirmed her support to listing the building as an asset of community value.

ITS members have put together a survey with a view to maintaining the facility for community use, which can be found here.

The council report can be read in full here.

What is taoism?

Taoism or Daoism refers to a Chinese philosophy, or a set of Chinese traditions and religions which emphasize living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is generally defined as the source of everything and the ultimate principle underlying reality. 

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