Gledhow community fight to prevent housing development
One of England’s greatest poets, William Blake, said: “To the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
It doesn’t take a huge amount of mental agility to see that the 1.5km ribbon of woodland that hugs Gledhow Valley Road on either side like a luscious green tunnel is a boon for both the body and mind.
After a housing application for the land on the north Leeds suburban road was recently turned down, an environmental group have fresh fears that permission for another application will eventually be granted at a later date.
The Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods (FGVW) have set up a crowdfunding page to protect the field which they feel could be turned into a housing estate or used for industrial purposes.
And with just days to go before a deadline for submitting a bid, the group are feeling hopeful.
Steve Jones-Blackett, from FGVW, said: “We want to protect it for future generations so that it will remain a wild space for people to enjoy. The whole of Gledhow Valley Road is a green corridor so if we can get our hands on it, we can look after it.”
He continued: “It will be preserved forever. I’m amazed that in two weeks we’ve raised pretty much the asking price for this land through social media and crowd-surfing. We’re overwhelmed by the local communities and those further afield who have been unbelievably generous. It’s restored our faith in humanity.”
The impact on the green space in the heart of Gledhow Valley would be severely detrimental to the local community, and the group have been working hard to raise £28,500 to stop the woods being taken over by developers.
Dave Miles, also from FGVW, said: “It’s been a big community effort. We’ll leave the land as it is if we get it.
“We may take away the barbed wire and put up a few fences. We are so pleased with how the neighbourhood has responded. Everyone has become so involved in this and it’s so good to achieve this on behalf of the community.
“Now we need to get over than final hurdle to achieve our dreams.”
Steve continued: “These woods are beautiful and are open to everyone. It would be the last piece of the jigsaw to save it. In this very field we’re trying to protect, a doe gave birth to a fawn three years ago; a fox family with three cubs call it home and we also have a pair of nesting sparrow hawks in the corner near the trees.
“To interrupt the green corridor is madness.”
A plan to build 14 homes on the site last year was submitted by the Catholic Diocese of Leeds and a private landowner, who own adjacent fields off Gledhow Valley Road in Chapel Allerton. However , Leeds City Councillors rejected the idea.
The community has put forth ideas in the past for the field’s use, such as turning it into a wildflower meadow, a picnic area and even an orchard.
Sheela Birdi, a local resident and campaigner, said: “I bring the grandchildren here. It’s perfect.”
Fellow campaigner, Kuldeep Bajwa, added: “Having green space is really important. People can come and see wild nature instead of in the park where it’s controlled.
“Kids love it in nature. Here, you can pick up a stick and use your imagination to turn it into a sword or magic wand. To see children having their imagination sparked in a place like this is wonderful.”
FGVW’s main priority now is to raise money to secure the site for local people. Bids needs to be submitted by Friday 22nd April.
To make a donation and help keep the green belt intact, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Friends-of-Gledhow-Valley-Woods