Both the former West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre and glasshouse in Pudsey Park have been put on the market to lease – two-and-a-half years after last closing their doors, writes John Baron.
Both of the facilities shut in February 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and never re-opened after a subsequent round of Leeds City Council budget cuts permanently closing the facilities last year in a bid to save the local authority £90,000 a year.
Council bosses have this week invited expressions of interest for the former visitor centre, comprising animal enclosures, aviaries and aquariums as well as associated welfare rooms, offices, a classroom and toilets.
The council says there is potential for alternative use for the former visitors centre.
A council spokesperson said: “We are now exploring new opportunities for the building located in a prime public location in the heart of Pudsey historic market town. We are inviting expressions of interest from parties willing to explore a long-term sustainable use for the building.”
A small section of the former visitors centre which has historically been used for staff and equipment to maintain the park will be retained by Leeds City Council.
They’re also inviting offers on the adjacent heated greenhouse, which housed a range of tropical and temperate plants – but are aiming to lease this to a not-for-profit community organisation on a peppercorn rent.
The council spokesperson added: “The council is working alongside local elected representatives to seek interest in the facility from community-based organisations who can continue to manage it for the benefit of the local community. Interest is invited from not-for-profit organisations interested in working with the council towards a new community use for the facility.”
The window for the expression of interest will close on Friday, October 28, 2022.
More details on the facilities and how to express an interest in them can be found here.
West Leeds Country Park is a 32km circular trail running from the city centre,
through the green corridor of the Aire Valley around Calverley, south of Pudsey and
into Armley and Wortley.
The visitor centre opened in 2010 was free to enter and was a registered zoo. It kept captive indigenous species ranging from birds, mammals and fish and explained the different habitats in West Leeds, and how they benefit wildlife.
The permanent closure followed a public consultation which attracted 2,035 responses, with 85% of respondents saying they didn’t want the centre to close. A petition with more than 2,500 names on it was also submitted.
Leeds City Council said at the time that the closure was due to budget pressures following the pandemic, including a shortfall in Government funding.
West Leeds Dispatch‘s Cutswatch series has been detailing cuts in West Leeds here.