Campaigners opposing plans for housing on the historic TV Harrison Sports Ground in Wortley have succeeded in having it listed as an asset of community value.
The listing by Leeds City Council gives the area, off Oldfield Lane, a legal status and a high degree of protection as a sports ground.
In January the High Court in London ruled the council’s initial refusal to list the land as an asset of community value as unlawful.
Michael Meadowcroft, chair of the TV Harrison Sports Ground Association, said:
“This is great news for the campaign, for the local community and particularly for the local teams and youths who play on the football pitch.
“It is a big step forward after almost three and half years of campaigning and follows two judicial review successes in the High Court.
“I want to congratulate Leeds City Council on now accepting the importance of the TV Harrison Ground to the local community.”
Mr Meadowcroft, a former Leeds West MP, today called on the council to terminate its agreement to buy parts of the land from the Leeds School Sports Association. He also hoped the outline planning permission for housing – which is the subject of another judicial review application to be heard on 20 June – would be withdrawn. He added:
“If the sale of the ground to the city council is now terminated we would wish to use the opportunity under the Localism Act to purchase it.
“Once we have that security we can put our Business Plan into operation and in due course bring the whole site back into use, including the provision of a pavilion for indoor sports and as a community centre. We look forward to working with other sports and community organisations to make this historic facility a centre of excellence for all ages.”
Farnley & Wortley councillors David Blackburn, Ann Blackburn and Ann Forsaith have all confirmed their full support to the group and their nomination and feel strongly that the site should be brought back into use for the community.
The council’s full decision to list the TV Harrison ground as an asset of community value can be read in full here.
Leeds City Council have argued that there is a growing need for quality local authority family homes in the area.
The council declined to comment further when approached by West Leeds Dispatch today (Tuesday, 12 April 2022).
History of the site
The site has been a sports ground since 1857 and achieved fame in 1928 when a group of local schoolteachers organised a public appeal to buy the ground in order to save it being built on.
Backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post the appeal raised the present day of equivalent of £140,000 and, it was said at the time, the ground was saved for the schoolchildren of Leeds “in perpetuity.”
It became the headquarters of the Leeds City Boys team and many Leeds United stars played there including David Batty, Brian Deane, David Harvey, Stuart McCall, Paul Madeley, Paul Reaney, Micah Richards, Alan Smith and Noel Whelan. It became known locally as ‘Wortley’s Wembley’.
The key teacher in the 1928 campaign was Tom Vernon Harrison and, when he died the following year, the ground was named after him.
The ground was entrusted to a trust, now the Leeds Schools’ Sports Association, which abandoned the ground in 2005 and wished to sell it to the Leeds City Council for a housing development.
The TV Harrison Sports Ground Campaign Group was formed and to stop the proposed development it took the city council to Court. In August 2021 the High Court quashed the City Council’s first grant of planning permission to develop the site. The Council’s second grant of planning permission is currently the subject of a further judicial review.
In January this year Mr Justice Lane quashed the council’s decision to refuse the campaign’s application to have the site listed as an asset of community value.
The campaign group has already restored the football pitch and regular local league matches are played on it.
Follow WLD’s ongoing coverage of the TV Harrison issue here.