Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Decision-makers in Leeds are set to discuss plans to bid for £40m of Government money to help improve the district’s roads and leisure services.
A report, set to go before Leeds City Council’s decision-making Executive Board, lists bids for road improvements in west Leeds, and for a new leisure facility to the east of the city.
It also claimed a bid to convert a disused golf course in south Leeds into a huge new public park and “Covid-19 memorial woodland”, could be submitted further down the line.
The council is hoping to gain around £20m of funding for each scheme from the Government’s so-called “levelling up” fund.
The first proposal focusses on travel and environmental improvements to the outer ring road between Horsforth and Pudsey, while the second is to help create a new “Well Being Centre” on the site of existing Fearnville Leisure Centre.
A third proposal, a bid for which is not yet ready to be submitted, is a “thematic cultural asset scheme” that, the report claims, “could focus on the delivery of strategic green space and parks improvements at a sub-district level.”
The report added:
“(The) projects present a significant opportunity to secure major investment and accelerate the delivery of ambitions that are strongly aligned with our best council plan, delivery of inclusive growth and our approach to economic recovery.”
The first two schemes are each expected to cost just over £22m, with a total of £40m of Government levelling up funding being sought by the council.
Proposals for Fearnville include 5,000 square metres of new space, including a six-lane pool, small training pool with water confidence area, fitness gym, studios and outdoor fitness areas. It is hoped final plans for the scheme will be drawn up by the end of this year.
The road scheme is expected to include junction improvements at Fink Hill, Horsforth roundabout and at Calverley Lane; new pedestrian and cycling facilities along the Ring Road; and new pedestrian and cycle crossings.
The third scheme, for which a bid is not expected until later in the year, has been dubbed Leeds Park City, and is hoped to “breathe new life
into every park in every community”.
The report added:
“It could incorporate the proposals for the creation of a new 48 hectare high quality park and Covid-19 memorial woodland on land formerly occupied by the South Leeds Golf Club.
“The project would deliver improvements to of existing parks or green space and could and include children’s playgrounds, multi-use games areas, outdoor gyms and skate parks.
“The outcome would be create a ‘Leeds Park City’ to deliver a greener, healthier, wilder recovery and capitalise on the economic, health, biodiversity and climate change mitigation outcomes of high quality public greenspace.”
According to the Government, the Levelling Up Fund sees extra funding allocated to local authorities “most in need of levelling up in England”.
Local authorities are expected to bid for the funding and the number of bids they can make will depend on how many MPs are in their area. Leeds currently has seven MPs, while an eighth, Andrea Jenkyns, oversees a constituency which includes parts of both Leeds and Wakefield.
The plans are set to be discussed by Leeds City Council’s executive board on Tuesday, June 8.