Big changes at Hunslet Moor, but local group dismayed

Major landscaping and alterations work is underway on Hunslet Moor – but local residents, who only recently formed a ‘Friends Of’ group to help manage and improve the park, have expressed frustration that they weren’t consulted or even warned that the work was due.

Major work is underway at Hunslet Moor – but who knew? (Image: Ed Carlisle)

Hunslet Moor – the green space just off the northern end of Dewsbury Road, bordered by the Longroyds and St Peter’s Court, and overlooked by Crescent Grange and Towers – has been a well-used community space since at least the 1870s. In its heyday, it featured tennis courts, a bandstand, bowling greens, and the annual Hunslet Feast event. (Click here for more on the park’s history.)

However, the space had become somewhat overlooked and unloved in the past decades – until the past two years, which has seen a new ‘Friends of Hunslet Moor’ emerge. This group, made up of local residents, has – with the support and encouragement of the Council’s Parks and Countryside team – held quarterly action days, and started to look at how to revitalise the park.

Then, apparently out of the blue, this week has seen contractors on site – carrying out fairly major work on the park. The fencing around the (now unused) bowling green is being removed, with that area due to be incorporated into the main park; the next door knot garden is due to lose one side of its fencing, so as to become opened up to the park; and a metal ‘ball-wall’ (a combined goal and basketball zone) – next to the children’s playground – is being replaced, and the ground resurfaced.

Members of the ‘Friends Of’ group have been quick to acknowledge that something needed to be done with the bowling green, with the club there recently disbanding – and also recognise the need for realistic solutions. But they’ve expressed disbelief and dismay that the work is going ahead without any apparent consultation or even warning, and have also questioned the wisdom of opening up the knot garden to the main park.

Brenda Barlow, chair for the group, told South Leeds Life:

“I’m angry that they’ve done this, knowing that the community had lots of ideas (for the fenced area). I for one was really hoping for allotments. But what makes it worse is that our ‘Friends Of’ group has recently set up, with the Council’s help, to help maintain the park – yet they didn’t even want to consult with us or anyone before deciding what to do.”

And Sam Gilmore, the secretary, added: “It’s a real kick in the teeth for our group.”

Vicky Nunns, speaking on behalf of the Council’s Parks and Countryside department, commented:

“These works were first conceived five years ago, and are based on a lot of feedback we’ve had from local people – especially about making the knot garden more accessible for everyone. We’ve at last got the necessary funding, so are now pressing ahead with this phase of work. I can only apologise that we unfortunately didn’t talk with the ‘Friends Of’ group about the plans. Going forward, nothing is set in stone, and we’re very happy to come and meet with them, hopefully build some bridges, get even more people involved, and together make the park the best it can be.”

The bulk of the work in the park is due to be completed by the end of March, except the resurfacing and refurbishment of the ‘ball-wall’ zone, which should be finished in April or May; and the former bowling club pavilion is likely to become available for use by local people part-time later this year. To find out more, to share your ideas for the park, or to get involved, click here for the ‘Friends of Hunslet Moor’ FB group, contact South Leeds Life to be put in touch with the group, or join their next action day: 10am-1pm on Saturday 15 April (2017), on the park.