Council planning chiefs are set to encounter renewed opposition to plans to build local authority housing on a Wortley sports pitch after planning permission was quashed by a court.
Outline plans by Leeds Council to build houses on the former TV Harrison ground in Oldfield Lane were given the green light in principle by city councillors in March.
But the decision, which came despite despite 397 objections, was last month quashed on legal grounds in the High Court. Campaigners were also given leave to bring judicial review proceedings over the council’s decision to approve the plans.
The council was also ordered to pay campaigners’ costs of £6,500 plus VAT.
The planning application is due to be reconsidered by councillors later this month – but influential national body Sport England has now lodged an objection to the proposals. In their objection, they state:
“It is our understanding that the site is has been brought back into use recently and used on more of an informal recreational basis, hosting events such as charity games.
“Whilst the site is not currently hosting formal affiliated football it is used as an informal place to play for the community and if it was lost could be detrimental to the residents’ ability to do so and also potentially to wider social, physical activities.
“On that basis, we would object to the proposal until we understood if there were any proposed mitigation planned to replace the pitches/facilities.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson confirmed that the original outline planning approval had been quashed, but added:
“The outline planning permission for a housing development at Oldfield Lane was granted on 16 March 2021. By consent of the parties, the decision was quashed by the court and remitted to the council for redetermination. The application will be considered by Plans Panel on 23 September 2021.”
Members of the TV Harrison Community Action Group have, over the past 18 months, cut the grass and restored the once-overgrown pitch to allow community matches to take place. They argue the land was originally gifted to the children of Leeds in the form of a trust deed.
Action Group chairman Michael Meadowcroft today told WLD that more can be done with the site if the council’s ‘threat of development’ is lifted. The group has drawn up initial proposals for a new clubhouse/community centre and other improvements at the site.
Leeds City Council is aiming to build 61 houses on the greenfield site, three quarters of which is owned by the Leeds School Sports Association.
The council’s ambition is to provide at least 300 new-build council homes per year in a bid to meet the growing demand for homes. In West Leeds the council is already building 12 dwellings on overgrown land at Heights Lane in Armley.
Leeds City Council maintain the plans were approved due to the overwhelming demand for social housing in the area, adding that any money made by Leeds School Sports Association would go towards new sporting facilities in the city.
The field is former home to the Leeds City Boys football team, and helped develop the careers of such stars as Brian Deane, David Batty and Stuart McCall. It was officially closed by Leeds School Sports Association in 2004.
Read all of West Leeds Dispatch‘s articles on this issue here.