A public meeting to discuss the future of the former Whingate Primary School site in Armley has said it would rather have housing than a park.
Almost 30 local residents attended the meeting to have a say on what they’d like to see built on the site, which saw the former primary school building demolished last year due to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Armley councillors Alison Lowe, Alice Smart and Jim McKenna called the public meeting at Swallow Hill Academy to discuss how the empty site could be used in future. Ideas had included housing, a community centre, sports club facilities – and a much-needed play or green space.
But despite a social media campaign for a play area, many residents attending felt unsupervised park equipment would attract anti-social behaviour near to their homes and said a similar proposal for a sports area could also lead to noise and disruption.
The meeting was told that any play equipment would need to be at least 20 metres away from neighbouring properties in order to avoid disturbing residents.
One resident said:
“A play park is all well and good but it’s a different story if you live opposite it. I’ve lived for 15 years with the old school building opposite and saw kids climbing all over it at night. I want something there that can’t be vandalised.”
The majority of the meeting agreed that a small development of private housing would be more suitable.
Ben Middleton, head of asset management at Leeds City Council, said the site was ideal for housing, but could also be suitable for a doctor’s surgery or specialist care home. He admitted the council was looking to sell the site and that there was a pressure for new housing in Leeds.
One woman said she was in favour of a play park, despite issues with anti-social behaviour. She added:
“Why should the idiots and lunatics who blight our community run the asylum?”
Cllr Alison Lowe (Lab, Armley) chaired the meeting and said the cash-strapped council couldn’t afford to build or maintain anything on the site.
A further discussion will take place on the future of the site at next Tuesday’s Armley Forum meeting, which starts in Armley Library at 7pm.