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Wortley’s Wembley: Housing plans D-Day – will plans get green light despite objections?

Plans to build houses on a Wortley sports pitch where past Leeds United stars learned their trade could be approved in principle from planners next week – despite more than 350 objections.

Leeds City Council wants to build local authority houses on the TV Harrison Sports Ground off Oldfield Lane and has applied for permission to establish the principle of housing and highway access on the site.

Members of the council’s south and west plans panel will next Thursday decide the outline application – with council planning officers recommending approval in principle subject to a raft of planning conditions.

Former Leeds United players Noel Whelan and Brian Deane have backed the campaign to save the field.

A council report also recommends referring the application to the Secretary of State following requests from members of the public.

The application has received 352 objections, with opponents saying the sports field is still in use and was originally given to the children of Leeds to use. There are also concerns about the impact of extra traffic on busy roads and the lack of local infrastructure, such as school places and doctors.

Sport England – an influential public body to build the foundations of a community sport system and grow the number of people enjoying sport – has also objected to the loss of a playing field.

A planning officer’s report says the principle of the development for housing is
supported by the up to date Local Plan and planning blueprint the Site Allocation Plan. The report said the land had been disused for many years and added:

“That the proposal is in accordance with the existing site allocations should be afforded very significant weight in consideration and determination of the application.

“The development will provide an acceptable quantum of housing in line with the SAP allocation, with a safe and adequate means of access. It is considered that the principle of developing the site for residential purposes is acceptable in terms of all local and national planning policies subject to the imposition of conditions.

“In conclusion, taking into account all relevant factors and with consideration being given to all other matters including representations both for and against the
development, the application is recommended for approval.”

As the proposal is at preliminary ‘outline’ stage to establish the principle of development, the exact number of properties would be determined in a more detailed proposal at a future date, but the site is earmarked for up to 61 houses in the Site Allocation Plan.

The pitch was disused for more about 15 years after the facilities – which were once used by the prestigious Leeds City Boys teams and nicknamed ‘Wortley’s Wembley’ – fell into disrepair.

Members of the TV Harrison Community Action Group have, over the past 12 months, cut the grass and restored the once-overgrown pitch to allow community matches to take place.

Cllr David Blackburn (Farnley & Wortley, Green) wrote to to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick just before Christmas, claiming Leeds Council has a prejudicial interest over the recently submitted plans to build local authority housing.

The council’s ambition is to provide at least 300 new build council homes per year. In West Leeds the council will build 12 dwellings at overgrown land at Heights Lane in Armley.

Leeds City Council’s plans can be read in full here.

The proposals will be discussed at next Thursday’s south and west plans panel.

Read our ongoing coverage on this issue here.

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