Campaign Update

Just to report progress with the “Keep Meanwood Valley Special” campaign since its launch last week.

The main news is that the campaign has a new website, www.sogtetleyfield.com, where amongst other things you’ll find:

  • advice on how to Object to the Tetley Field planning application
  • a link to Meanwood Fun Day on Bank Holiday Monday where the campaign will have a stall to help people submit their Objections
  • a copy of the campaign poster to download and print (put it up in your window!)

There is also a new Facebook page: www.facebook.com/savetetleyfield/

Take a look also at the Objections already submitted to Leeds City Council

The most important thing is to remember to make your Objection if you haven’t already done so! The deadline is 10 June. You can do this either online or by post. At the moment, there are only around 30 Objections listed on the Council’s website – we’re hoping for dozens more (ideally even more than dozens!), so do please Object, and encourage other people you know to do the same.

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Campaign launched to Keep Meanwood Valley Special

tetley field save our green space

Tetley Field

Save our Green Space

Keep Meanwood Valley Special

A campaign has been launched to encourage as many people as possible to object to a planning application to build 45 residential dwellings on Tetley Field in the Meanwood Valley. Tetley Field is a beautiful, wildlife-rich 11 acre field bordering Meanwood Park in the Meanwood Valley Green Belt. The public are urged to object to this application before the deadline of 10 June.

Download this poster to find out more about the campaign and how to make your objection to the application

How to object to the application

Once you have read the information on the poster, please draft out your objection:

  • Read the guidance in the poster about what to say. Remember particularly that your wording needs to be unique and personal to yourself. Please do not simply copy the whole guidance verbatim, as this will just be regarded by the Council as the same representation repeated. You may want to focus on those of the 10 “Grounds of objection” listed that are most relevant to you.
  • See examples of Objection Comments already made against the application.
  • There is more guidance on how to comment on planning applications on the Leeds City Council website.

Then, submit your objection before 10 June, by one of two methods:

  1. EITHER: Online: Visit https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/ and copy and paste the reference 16/02583/OT into the search box. My previous blog has more on how to register on the system and submit Comments.
  2. OR: by Post: Write to Development Enquiry Centre, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington St, Leeds, LS2 8HD, including your name and address and quoting the application number 16/02583.

There are more ways you can help:

  • Tell people you know about the campaign and urge them to object to the application.
  • Share information about the campaign through social media. There is now a Facebook page at facebook.com/savetetleyfield and on Twitter you can follow @meanwoodrambler and use the hashtag #tetleyfield. Why not raise more awareness via Instagram, youtube or any other social media?
  • Print out the poster and put it up in your front window and any appropriate community spaces you can think of.
  • Take a late-spring walk on Tetley Field and remind yourself why it’s so special.

Where is Tetley Field?

Tetley Field is normally accessed on foot from the right of way between Weetwood Avenue and Weetwood Mill Lane. It is also possible to access it from behind the duckpond (sometimes know as the “American Garden”) in Meanwood Park. Online, you can type “Beckside Gardens Weetwood” into Google Maps to see where it is. The map below should also help:

tetleyfieldmapRemember the key points:

  • Object before 10 June
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • This is Green Belt protected land
  • Keep Meanwood Valley Special!

Many thanks for your support of this campaign. More information about the recent history of the housing threat to Tetley Field can be found by clicking the Tetley Field tab at the top of the page.

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Get ready to protect Meanwood Valley

The planning application to build 45 properties on Tetley Field in the Meanwood Valley has now been submitted. Local residents have met to discuss how to encourage as many people as possible to object to the application. A formal campaign will be launched shortly, with full guidance on how to object. This blog provides a few tips in advance of the campaign launch on how you can prepare to make your objection.

The deadline for Comments on the application is 10 June, so start thinking now about how you’re going to object, what you’re going to say and how to encourage others to do so too.

First of all, you might want to have a look at the application itself. To do so, visit https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/ and copy and paste the reference 16/02583/OT into the search box. This brings up the application:

Address: Land North Of Weetwood Avenue Weetwood Leeds LS16 5NG

Proposal: Outline application for residential development up to 45 dwellings including access

The are 44 (gulp!) documents associated with the application. Obviously, it’s impossible to take in all this stuff. The one I found most useful was the “Planning Statement”, particularly pages 6-8 (which summarises the proposed development) and pages 29-50 (which outlines the applicant’s case – always good to know). I also noted the “Street Scenes”. These demonstrate the likely visual impact of the development when viewed from Meanwood Park – quite a big factor for a regular visitor to the Park like me. Given that you can clearly see the Park from the Field through the trees (see my photo below), the impact is likely to be considerable.

DSC02332Once you’ve looked at the application, you can also register so that you’re in a position to submit a Comment. Click on “Comments” then “Register here”. You are asked for Name, Email address, Password (create your own) and Address. Tick the Terms & Conditions. You are then sent an email with a final link to click to complete your registration.

You are then in a position to make a Comment. Given that the system will only allow you 1 hour on the form, you might want to prepare this in advance in Word or similar. Full guidance on the kind of things to say will follow shortly with the statement accompanying the campaign launch. However, at this stage it’s worth emphasising that ideally you will need to say something unique and personal to yourself. Signing a petition or copying and pasting the pre-prepared statement will just be regarded by the Council as the same representation repeated. So, over the next few days, have a think about why you feel the Field is valuable to you. Ideally your wording, when you do come to comment, should sound as if it’s coming genuinely from you and be just a little different to everyone else’s.

I’ve had a go at drafting out what I’m going to say. Obviously, I will tweak this when the campaign is launched. However, I show it here to give an idea of the kind of thing to come up with:

As a Meanwood resident, I object to this proposed development because it threatens the Green Belt in the Meanwood Valley, one of the best things about living in this area. I understand that development in the Green Belt conflicts with both local and national planning policies. Development on this site is therefore clearly inappropriate.

In particular, I value the existing character of the site of this proposed development (which is known locally as “Tetley Field”). I use the Field on a regular basis for informal recreation – rambling and running. The Field has great character – it feels like a valuable and quiet “wild open space” in the inner city, and has views into Meanwood Park and beyond. It is clearly an important wildlife refuge for both animals and plants. Several paths cross the site, linking to other parts of the Meanwood Valley, which demonstrate that the Field is well used by local people. In addition, the Field adjoins Meanwood Park, so development here would clearly have a detrimental visual impact on the Park itself.

In conclusion, as a Meanwood resident I feel that development on this site would be a considerable loss to the area. In addition, there would be no obvious benefits in return from the redevelopment of Headingley Stadium, to which this application is directly related.

Note when filling in the Comments form you will have to click your “Stance” – Object, Neutral or Support. Obviously, when the time comes, please Object (if you disagree with this, you’re probably reading the wrong blog!).

Full details of the campaign to protect this corner of the Meanwood Valley will follow on this site very shortly. Ideally, please don’t actually fill in the Comments form until after the campaign launch. But with the deadline for Comments being 10 June, get ready to object now, and encourage people you know to do the same.

 

The Hollies in Spring

If you know The Hollies, you don’t need me to tell you that they’re at their best in Spring.

And the good news is they’re just coming into their seasonal colours now. So, make a mental note to visit in the next few weeks.

This afternoon, not for the first time, I found myself wandering round there for 20 minutes or so in no particular direction. It is of course a place of numerous paths and stone stairways, all worth following for their own sake just to see what’s round the corner. And it’s usually a pleasant surprise – some exotic flowering shrub of whatever colour, a bubbling channel of water, or a view through the trees and down to the beck.

It’s quite something to think that this hillside was an active quarry in the 19th Century. But it’s nice to know how, over time, an abandoned site of industry can be transformed into such natural beauty.

A hidden gem – one of the real highlights of the Meanwood Valley.

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A blueprint for Tetley Field

Back on 3 March, I attended the City Plans Panel meeting as a local resident. At the meeting, representatives of Leeds Rugby, the current owners of Tetley Field, said they’d be submitting a planning application before the end of March to build houses on the Field. It’s now April and no application has yet been submitted.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Councillors on 3 March expressed some strong reservations about the pre-applications and, alongside an effective representation from Weetwood Residents Association, you can understand why Leeds Rugby might be having a rethink. Getting planning permission for the Field is clearly going to be very difficult for Leeds Rugby, and of course without planning permission the Field is of no value to them. I imagine that many local residents have therefore been wondering what Leeds Rugby are going to do next.

It may be some time before we, as local residents, get to hear about Leeds Rugby’s plans. It could actually be beneficial to all parties if local residents were to become more proactive. Otherwise we’re faced with a scenario where an application is eventually submitted, local residents mount effective opposition and a long planning battle follows. It doesn’t sound a very appealing prospect, neither for local residents nor developer.

So, my suggestion is that local residents should initiate a process about the longer-term future of Tetley Field, now, before a planning application is even submitted. To start with, I feel there needs to be an agreement or blueprint of what we as local residents actually want to see on Tetley Field in the future. This could then guide further conversations with Leeds Rugby about the future use, management, perhaps even ownership of the Field.

At the moment, all that local residents are agreed on is what we don’t want, ie development. To get the ball rolling, here’s what I personally would like to see in an ideal world:

  • In general, retain and enhance the existing natural character of the Field and its existing use for informal recreation
  • Removal of iron fence adjacent to both Meanwood Park and the right of way between Weetwood Avenue/Weetwood Mill Lane
  • Removal of conifers – presumably originally planted as shielding for the rugby pitch, but out of character with the area
  • Removal of the superfluous car park accessible from Weetwood Avenue; appropriate fencing/pedestrian access at this point
  • Improvement of right of way underfoot and selective improvement of other paths
  • Enhancement of wildlife habitats, eg birdboxes, logpiles
  • Possible amenity improvements, eg dog waste bin(s), additional bench(es)
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Existing fence, conifer and tarmac mar the natural character of Tetley Field

Moving on from this, how could positive improvements like this be achieved? I feel that there is a strong possibility that as long as the Field is in private ownership then planning permission will be sought for it. What if the Field was owned and managed by an organisation dedicated to the public interest? I’d like to pose the question initially of whether local residents would aspire to having a role in the future management and/or ownership of Tetley Field.

What would you like to see on Tetley Field in the future? Do you agree with my suggestions for what we do next, and further ahead? I’d be interested to hear any views from local residents.

Why Tetley Field matters to Meanwood

My previous blogs have covered the potential threat to Tetley Field from housing development. Tetley Field is located in Weetwood ward and is usually approached from the public right of way that connects Weetwood Avenue and Weetwood Mill Lane. Weetwood residents have expressed concern about the threat to the Field on their doorstep and, through the Weetwood Residents Association, have made effective initial representations to Leeds Councillors. So, why then should the threat to the Field be of any concern to Meanwood residents?

My answer to this question would be “because the existing character of the wider Meanwood Valley is so valuable to Meanwood residents”. Exploring the Valley is one of the best things about living in Meanwood, and one of the distinctive aspects of the Valley is the way the various open spaces link up. So, if you take Meanwood Park as a kind of “base”, it is possible from there to explore on foot Meanwood Woods, Adel Woods, The Hollies, the Woodleas, the lower Meanwood Valley and Woodhouse Ridge without passing through any significant built up areas.

And Tetley Field can be added to this list. Although access to the Field from Meanwood Park is not immediately obvious and so possibly not well-known by Meanwood residents, it is in fact only 30 seconds walk from Meanwood Park duckpond, one of the most visited spots in the Valley and itself only 5 minutes walk from the car park at the end of Green Road. Round the back of the pond, through the gap in the fence and you’re on the Field – see below:

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The path to Tetley Field from the duckpond

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Access to Tetley Field behind the duckpond

Once on the Field, the most immediate first impression is the open-ness of the space. Much of the Valley is wooded so the wider-reaching views of the Field come as a pleasant contrast, and of course a different range of habitats are present, both of which only enhance the Field’s importance. The paths across the Field then act as useful routes to The Hollies via Weetwood Mill Lane or back towards Meanwood Park via Weetwood Avenue.

The Field immediately borders Meanwood Park and is only really separated from it by the (ugly) iron fence that currently surrounds most of the Field. Should the existing natural character of the Field be retained in the long-term, it is quite conceivable that the Field could be much more accessible from the Park, or even become part of the Park itself.

So, to sum up, Tetley Field has value to Meanwood as well as Weetwood residents, and so representations from the Meanwood community have the potential to complement well those already made by residents of Weetwood. This could be crucial in the event of a planning application to build houses on the Field.

A good day for the Meanwood Valley

Earlier today (3 March) I attended, as a viewing member of the public, the City Plans Panel meeting where Leeds Council Members discussed the proposals for Tetley Field and the wider plans concerning Headingley Stadium. I’m glad to say that Members expressed some significant concerns about the proposals.

The section of the meeting concerning the Stadium plans began with a presentation from the developer (representatives of Leeds Rugby), followed by a response from Weetwood Residents Association on behalf of the local community, concluding with questions and comments from Members. Full minutes of the meeting will follow shortly on http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk, but I feel it is reasonable at this early stage to share my general impressions of Members’ views:

Planning process

Members’ key concern regarded the planning process adopted by the developer. The plans were presented to the meeting as 3 “Pre-Applications”, one concerning the redevelopment of the Stadium itself, the other two concerning the proposed housing developments at Weetwood and Tingley. The key problem Members had was that the Stadium plans were presented as being dependent on the granting of planning permission for the two housing sites. Members were uncomfortable with this and stated that they would prefer the applications to be presented separately, so they could be considered individually on their own merits.

Timing

A related issue was timing. The developer stated that they have a tight timescale (driven by the requirements of the cricket authorities), and hope to begin building this September. Members commented that this may well be too tight a timescale, both in terms of the Site Allocation process for these two Green Belt sites, and in terms of a planning application itself which may need be referred to the Secretary of State.

Local benefits

Another problem Members commented on was the lack of direct benefits to local residents. The developer made the case that there would be local community benefit through the improved Stadium and through the rugby and cricket clubs’ community/charitable activities. Members felt however that this argument was weak and that there were no obvious direct benefits to residents in Weetwood or Tingley from the Stadium redevelopment.

Uncertainties

In addition, two underlying uncertainties were commented on. Firstly, a redeveloped Stadium would not necessarily guarantee the future of international cricket at Headingley. Secondly, uncertainties over the funding package proposed.

 

As these were Pre-Applications, no formal recommendations were made by Members, but my strong impression was that they had significant reservations about the plans. The developers’ presentation mentioned that they intended to make their 3 planning applications before the end of March. It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be the case in the light of Members’ comments. The next meeting of the City Plans Panel is on 24 March.

It should be mentioned in closing that Weetwood Residents Association’s presentation was both convincing and professional, and I am grateful that they were able to make such an effective representation on behalf of local residents like myself.

 

(4 March update – the Yorkshire Evening Post has also covered this story)

Councillors to discuss plans for Tetley Field

Leeds Council Members will be discussing the proposals for Tetley Field and the wider plans concerning Headingley Stadium at the Thursday 3 March meeting of the City Plans Panel. As far as I’m aware this is the first formal discussion by Councillors on the plans since their release back in January.

The Public Document Pack for the meeting is now available to view. It includes a report of the Chief Planning Officer, which is presented from pp 33-48.

The meeting will receive the Chief Planning Officer’s report and the applicant and their representatives will present the proposed schemes. Opportunity will be given for local community representatives to respond.

Members will be invited to provide feedback on the following questions raised in the report:

  1. Do Members have any comments on the principle of development at Headingley Stadium and at Weetwood and Tingley and particularly the bringing forward development of the two housing sites in advance of the Site Allocations process?
  2. Do Members have any comments on design considerations for either the Stands or the Housing schemes?
  3. Do Members have any comments about the impact of the Weetwood development on the character and appearance of this part of the Weetwood Conservation Area?
  4. Do Members have any comments on highway issues at either the Stadium or the Weetwood and Tingley Sites?
  5. Are there any other issues or comments that Members would like to raise or make at this stage?

The meeting takes place at Civic Hall from 1.30pm and is open to the public. A site visit preceeds the meeting at 11.40am.

A further blog on this topic will follow shortly after the meeting.

What can I do about Tetley Field?

My first blog posed the question whether the Tetley Field site in the Meanwood Valley was worth protecting in its current form from housing development. This second blog goes on to suggest some ways in which people concerned about this can make their views heard.

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The Comments received on my first blog suggest that I’m perhaps not the only person who sees some amenity, wildlife and recreational value in the Tetley Field in the Meanwood Valley. So, given that the field is under threat from development, the obvious next question is “what can we do about it”?

The immediate answer to this may appear to be “wait for the planning application to be submitted and then comment”. There’s no doubt that all interested parties should do this in due course. The issue is though that the application is not expected for another couple of months. If this seems like a long time to you too, here are some suggestions of things you could be doing in the meantime, ranging from more formal to more informal methods.

Leeds City Council

The Council will of course decide the outcome of the forthcoming planning application. The ground for the proposed redevelopment has also been laid by the re-allocation of the Tetley Field from Greenbelt to Housing in the Council’s Site Allocations Plan Publication Draft of 2015 (site HG2/49, p.314-5 of the “North Leeds” document). Although the formal consultation on the Site Allocations Plan closed in November, it is of course possible to contact the Council at any time. You may wish to mention both the site re-allocation as well as the developer’s plans themselves.

Leeds Rugby

Another consultation that strictly speaking has recently closed is on Leeds Rugby’s development website, although contact details are still visible at the time of writing. If you are a fan of Leeds Rhinos/Yorkshire Carnegie/Yorkshire CCC you may want to mention this as hopefully the Club will make particular note of its supporters’ views. Note though that responding to this consultation only has the potential to affect the content of the expected planning application itself.

Politicians

Speak to your local Ward Councillor or MP. Tetley Field is located in Weetwood ward/Leeds North West constituency but also immediately borders Moortown ward/Leeds North East constituency.

Bear in mind one over-riding theme regarding the above methods – it is often more powerful for a number of people to make individual responses/representations, rather than making one response on behalf of lots of people.

Local groups

Back in October the Meanwood Valley Partnership agreed to make an initial objection to the reallocation of the Tetley Field in the Site Allocations Plan, and at a public meeting on 10 February pledged to repeat this when the planning application is submitted. I understand that concern has also been expressed through the Weetwood Residents Association. Local associations like this are important links between the community and the Council/councillors so if you’re involved in local groups keep your concerns about the Tetley Field on their radar.

Social media

Something almost anyone can do is make the most of social media. I’m having a try here with this blog site (you are very welcome to use the Comments section below) and Twitter account (feel free to adopt the hashtag #tetleyfield) but obviously there’s a plethora of options these days. Why not take some photos (even better than mine!) and share them on Facebook or Instagram? Or how about some videos on Youtube? (choose a nice day, and try and catch the birdsong!).

Walk and talk

It goes without saying – get your boots on and walk on the field, share your concerns with local friends and encourage them to get involved.

And finally….

One final thought – Do you know anyone who would be willing to do a free habitat survey and share the results? It would be great to back up the hunch that this is an important field for wildlife by having some hard evidence of the number of species on the field.

I hope these suggestions are constructive. Is a more co-ordinated response required? Please feel free to leave any Comments below.

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