Plans to build housing on former sports pitches dubbed ‘Wortley’s Wembley’ by campaigners have moved a step closer to reality.
Leeds City Council has published revisions to the originally approved conditions to buy the former TV Harrison ground at Oldfield Lane. The authority wants to build more than 50 council homes on the site.
The revised terms and conditions are with the Leeds Schools Sports Association (LSSA), which the report says owns three quarters of the site.
The terms and conditions of the purchase have not been made public as they relate the financial or business affairs of a particular person, and of the Council. The council report states:
“It is considered that since this information was obtained through one to one negotiations for the acquisition of the land then it is not in the public interest to disclose this information at this point in time.
“Also it is considered that the release of such information would or would be likely to prejudice the Council’s commercial interests in relation to other similar transactions in that prospective sellers of other similar properties would have access to information about the nature and level of consideration which may prove acceptable to the Council.
“It is considered that whilst there may be a public interest in disclosure, much of this information will be publicly available from the Land Registry following completion of this transaction and consequently the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing this information at this point in time. “
The news comes after LSSA put up fencing at the entrance to the site and warned campaigners against trespassing just before they were due to hold a community fun day on the site just before Christmas.
LSSA claims that if the planned sale of the site is completed, they would be able to reinvest the money in sporting facilities for schoolchildren in Leeds.
But campaigners who want to bring the site back into use, say the fight is not over, and that it should be replaced with a similar-sized pitch if it is eventually sold.
The Save the TV Harrison Community Action Group, who have gathered almost 3,000 names on a petition to oppose the sale, say the land was left in a trust to the children of Leeds and the LSSA has no right to sell it.
They say consultation has been scarce and that the pitch should be restored for Leeds schoolchildren to use.
The ground, which was once home to Leeds City Boys and graced by the likes of Paul Madeley, David Batty and Brian Deane, was closed in 2004 and is included in the council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP) as housing.
A Leeds Council spokesperson said last month:
“The SAP was subject to extensive public consultation and a full public inquiry. Representations on this site were received from ward members, local residents and the majority owners of the site.
“Finding suitable land which could potentially be listed for inclusion is never easy, and we felt that the land at Oldfield Lane was appropriate, given it has not been in use for now 14 years and was previously identified for housing.
“We are aware of concerns which have been raised around the quality of playing provision in the area. We are extremely open and willing to work closely with local representatives and residents around what options are available to potentially enhance sporting facilities at other locations in and around the community. ”
The TV Harrison field was used for sport following local headteacher Thomas Vernon Harrison helping to raise £1,200 back in 1931 to buy the land for the children to use.