Woodhall Playing Fields: Plans submitted for community sports hub

28 January 2020

Plans to transform sports facilities at Woodhall Playing Fields into a community hub have been submitted by Leeds City Council, writes Keely Bannister.

If approved, the current sports pavilion would be demolished and a new one-storey pavilion would be built, as well as three floodlit artificial grass pitches.

woodhall playing fields
The fields between Calverley and Pudsey.

Housing changing facilities, a community cafe, reception area and meeting rooms, the new pavilion building would replace the current two-storey one which hasn’t been fully in use since a fire damaged part of it in 2009.

Relocated to be “nestled within the woodland setting, away from residential properties on Woodhall Lane” in Pudsey, the new pavilion building would sit on the former tennis courts close to the proposed pitches and would have a sloped green roof to mitigate impact on its Green Belt surroundings.

The cafe would have views over the football pitches and the meeting rooms would open out into the main cafe via movable walls for “flexibility and to accommodate a wide range of users”

A document submitted to explain the design of the site expresses the importance of the meeting rooms to the development, stating:

“The meeting rooms are key aspects of the proposals, making the scheme more financially viable to operate. It is proposed that the meeting rooms will be utilised for a range of reasons, such as community classes as well as by the football clubs using the facility for team meetings / coaching. There is a private external terrace to the rear of the meeting rooms  as they will also be able to be booked out for children’s parties etc.”

Suggested opening hours are 9am to 10.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6.30pm on a Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays. The equivalent of four full-time jobs will be created.

Three new floodlit, artificial grass pitches would be created, each with multiple pitch markings to support a variety of different age and match types.

All three of the pitches will be enclosed by a metal ball-stop fence. A relaid, full0size grass pitch will also be available for weekend use.

18 football teams from Calverley, Farsley, Pudsey and Stanningley currently use the pitches at Woodhall and all of them will be permitted to use the new facilities if they are developed.

Whilst the plans would see the loss of some playing pitches, documents submitted in support of the application add:

“Whilst this proposal will result in the loss of part of existing grass playing fields and current playing pitches at Woodhall Lane Sports Ground, the provision of new AGPs will provide increased usage in comparison to the area of sports ground they will replace.  

“The existing grass pitches are known to suffer in particularly wet weather. This season, there have been 3 weekends where Leeds City Council Parks & Countryside have officially closed pitches for bad weather. Additionally, there have been other occasions where teams have cancelled play at the referee’s decision. Some damage has been done to the pitches when travellers breached the site on two occasions.”

The document goes on to explain other benefits of the proposals, stating:

“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.”

Impact on area

Potential impacts on nearby residential dwellings have been considered as part of the application.

A noise impact assessment concludes:

“Based on measured and predicted noise levels a noise impact assessment has been carried out to the existing residential dwellings located on Woodhall Lane, Bradford Road and Sunnybank Lane.

“The assessment suggests that the noise due to proposed AGPs would be equal to or below the existing typical background level at the façades of the nearest noise sensitive receivers and is in accordance with the Local Authorities criteria. As such this is an indication that the proposed AGPs would have a low impact on the nearby residential receivers, and is therefore in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework.”

Whilst the structures will be visible from nearby residential properties, floodlight mast heights were selected carefully to avoid the need for intensive lighting that would potentially have a negative impact on these dwellings. 

Access and parking

Proposed vehicular access to the northeast of the site with a document stating the following improvements are proposed:

“Vehicular access is proposed to the northeast of the site and will involve the replacement of the existing gated dropped-kerb access, with a newly created priority access (with kerbed radii) connecting with Woodhall Lane north of its current location.  It is proposed that a security gate will be provided in order to prevent unauthorised access outside of periods of site operation.”

204 car parking spaces are proposed within the site – an increase from zero existing currently, according to the application form, with on-street parking being the only option.

A transport assessment concludes that the proposed car park would be a “betterment of the existing situation with users of the recreational ground currently parking on Woodhall Lane when accessing the site”.

It also states that a “suite of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) are also proposed which will improve the existing situation on the local highway network by restricting the ability to park on-street along Woodhall Lane”, although these are not detailed at present.

Footpaths and play areas

Other benefits to the development are named as extra public footpaths, a parkour and rock climbing park and a children’s woodland play area, with documentation explaining:

“A series of public footpaths surround the site and connect to Woodhall Lake and the West Leeds Green Gateway Trail.    

“A shortage of facilities for teenagers has been identified in the area and therefore a  teenage play facility is proposed adjacent to Woodhall Lane. This location will provide a degree of natural surveillance. It is proposed this contains parkour equipment and rock climbing boulders. Parkour is related to free running but is characterised by the obstacles in its environment.  

“There is a second play area proposed adjacent to the pavilion building. This is set amongst the trees forming a woodland play area with wildlife themed equipment making an interactive and exciting place for both children and parents.   

“Grass seating mounds are proposed around the site providing a viewing area towards the pitches and countryside environment. Large numbers of native trees and wildflowers will be planted to help increase the ecological value of the site and support local wildlife populations.”

Background to the scheme

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 in St James’s Church, Pudsey.

Read more on Woodhall Playing Fields here.

You can view – and comment – on the plans here.

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