HYDE PARK PROTEST: Kids with banners want to save their playing field on Victoria Road
HYDE PARK PROTEST: Kids with banners want to save their playing field on Victoria Road

Hyde Park and Headingley’s local residents have recently begun a bid to buy a playing field on Victoria Road, which has been in use since 1906.

The aim is to make it a community sports facility. The public are asking for pledges to try to buy the site with a vision of a future sports field and indoor facility, which can be used by local schools, groups, individuals and sports teams.

The site has been the subject of a public inquiry, where developers Yorvale are wishing to build a private gated complex for 262 students, with a small area which will be publicly accessible – a plan that was originally turned down by a Leeds’ plans panel in December 2015.

In a review held between Tuesday 11th and Tuesday 25th October, a planning inspector will decide if this can go ahead.

John Davison, a local sports coach who is one of the lead campaigners against the proposed development, said: “The developers more or less threatened to sue the council if they didn’t make a decision. The council passed permission for social housing.

“There was a gap of 8 months, and a proposal came back saying they wanted to build a student village, which wasn’t what was agreed. That was turned down. Now there’s been a two week public inquiry and the planning inspector is going to decide if it’s going to be a student village. In the meantime, we’ve launched an online petition saying we’re not happy with that.”

The new website has been launched to ask people to pledge money to jointly purchase the site.

So far, over £5,000 has been pledged. Organisers are hoping that this is just the start and will be approaching more groups, businesses and other people to add to the growing fund to secure this facility for people of all ages and for future generations.

The area has long been deficient in public sports facilities, with a corresponding lack of sports teams.

Two of the five local primary schools have no grass facilities. All the schools in the area are inventive with their existing space getting the best use of it for their pupils, and would dearly welcome a community facility to give more opportunities for sport.

The website has received a growing number of pledges and people are posting ideas about what facilities they would like.

Cllr John Illingworth, of Leeds City Council, said: “Intensive public use of the Victoria Road sports facilities would allow at least 1000 local people to achieve five additional Quality Adjusted Life Years.”

Ritamisra100 said on social media: “I have a young son. I simply cannot imagine him growing up with so little outdoor space. Thankfully that is not an issue where I live but it is for many little boys like him in Hyde Park.”

Penny Goodman, local resident has pledged £100 towards this cause. She said: “The Headingley and Hyde Park areas are already extremely densely populated.

“The area is badly deficient in public green space, and because many of the houses locally are back-to-backs they do not have their own garden space either.

“A community-owned playing field and  sports facility would do a huge amount to help compensate for those problems, making everyone here healthier and happier.”

Harriet Vaight, a local resident said: “We live locally and are expecting our first baby soon. We would absolutely love this to be sports facilities for our child(ren) to use in the future. It’s really important to maintain green space in neighbourhoods for local community use. There is plenty of student accommodation already available in this area, new flats for students aren’t a necessity.”