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MIDDLETON: Plans to build 170 homes on recreation ground

MIDDLETON: Plans to build 170 homes on recreation ground

Image: LDRS

Councillors are set to decide whether to allow more than 170 homes to be built on the site of a popular playing field in Middleton.

A six-acre site including Throstle Recreation Ground off Middleton Park Avenue is subject to a planning application by Leeds City Council itself, which  the authority claims will create “100 per cent affordable housing”, as well as a 60 extra care flats.

The plans will include the “reconfiguration” of the recreation ground with a new public park and sports pitch provided within the blueprints.

But sports campaigners say the plans should be rejected, as they take up too much of the playing field site.

A report by Leeds City Council officers claims that, while Leeds City Council is only a leaseholder of the land,  an agreement has been reached between the council and the WADES charity – the site’s freeholder – to redevelop the land and “maintain public access to the area”.

The plans include 60 two-bed homes, 38 three-bed, two four-bed and 16 one-bed bungalows. The extra care facility would include 47 one-bed flats and 13 two-bed flats.

The report stated: “New green space is to be provided centrally within the development of the main Throstle Recreation Ground with a new public park and sports pitch provided to retain provision for sports along with new open multi use areas.”

It added that new seating areas would be built around the main sports pitch, with a number of natural play zones including boulders, balancing logs and stepping stones.

Sport England, a lottery-funded organisation which promotes physical activity, said it was unhappy with the plans, as only the area of the playing fields already marked out as a football pitch would be replaced in the new development.

A letter from Sport England’s planning manager Richard Fordham stated: “These elements of the proposal will lead to the loss of the remaining area of playing field. Sport England’s policy to protect playing fields covers the entire playing field site and not just the areas currently marked out with a pitch.

“Even if an area of a playing field has not used for pitch sport for a number of years, this does not alter the lawful use of the site. The site could be marked out with pitches and brought back into use for sport and this would not require planning permission.

“Sport England objects to the application because it is not considered to
accord with any of the exceptions to Sport England’s Playing Fields Policy.”

It added that, should the council grant the planning permission, the application should be referred to the Secretary of State for Housing.

The plans also received seven objections from local residents.

One of which read: “The congestion on Middleton Park Avenue and the junction to Thorpe Lane will be horrendous. Added pressure on local services ie doctors, dentist etc, bin collections, limited green space available for walking dogs, playground etc for such a large estate.

“Contempt for those of us that the council know would have objections to it. Limiting your time on here is also a slap in the face.”

Several other objections also expressed concerns at planned tree planting affecting their properties.

A report by Leeds City Council planning officers recommends the plans be approved in principle, subject to informing the government.

It concluded: “This scheme is considered to positively contribute towards the delivery of the Site Allocations Plan in line with the identified uses and deliver much needed affordable housing within an area of need whilst also providing a much needed care facility.

“It is acknowledged an objection has been received from Sport England however it is considered the replacement sports pitch and much enhanced multi-use green space address these concerns.

“The development provides an acceptable layout with a positive design and internal landscaping arrangement, allowing public access throughout which is considered to deliver an acceptable standard of residential amenity, including adequate internal space, for future occupants.”

The plans will be heard at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s South and West Plans Panel on Thursday, April 1.

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter

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