Cockburn School submits sports pitches planning application

Cockburn School submitted its application for planning permission for a new 3G pitch and tennis courts last week.

As we have previously reported the plans are for a full size artificial football/rugby pitch and three tennis courts on a small portion of the land that was part of South Leeds Golf Club until it closed in 2019. The plans would cause a ancient footpath and bridleway to be diverted, but do not include floodlighting.

The need for the new facilities go back to the crisis in secondary school places for children in South Leeds, caused by delays to the building of the Cockburn Laurence Calvert Academy in Middleton. Cockburn School was approached to take a ‘bulge cohort’ – a year group with an extra 60 places.

In return for the extra places Cockburn asked Leeds City Council to make up a historic shortage of teaching accommodation and playing field space at the Gipsy Lane site. The Department of Education lays down minimum space standards for school buildings and Cockburn are currently 65% below the required outdoor provision.

The deal was agreed by the Council’s Executive Board in June 2020. The decision was ‘called in’ by opposition Councillors, but approved by the Children & Families Scrutiny Board.

But last week Councillors at the Inner South Community Committee criticised the agreement when the subject was raised by local residents in the Open Forum section of the meeting.

Cllr Paul Truswell (Middleton Park Ward) said:

“The school had the Council over a barrel and demanded the extra playing fields space.”

Cllr Kim Groves (Middleton Park Ward) who retires in May, went further saying she was against the extra pitch being built:

“The existing pitches at the school and John Charles Centre for Sport are adequate for the school’s needs and will be supplemented by the Parklife facility soon.

“The Council is giving land to a private Academy Trust. This wouldn’t happen in other parts of the city.”

Cllr Andrew Scopes (Beeston & Holbeck Ward) said he wanted to see the land transferred on a long lease rather than  freehold so that the Council could enforce terms and conditions of use, for instance a traffic management plan.

You can read more about the school’s plans here:

You can read the full planning application on the Council’s Planning Portal here. You can comment, in favour or against, until Friday 1 April.


10 Replies to “Cockburn School submits sports pitches planning application”

  1. Councillors are making politics out of this at the expense of children from our community. The school is short of space for sport compared to other schools. They were promised more space. The students will be really excited to see this news, I know my daughter is. Why would anyone try to block this? Covid has been cruel to our children so it is time to get behind them and be kind.

    1. Hi Mike. Objections from the community are unlikely to be just around access to sports pitches. There are perfectly serviceable pitches that just need proper drainage built in. The land transfer is from the Middleton Park Estate as this land was added to the park following the closure of the golf club. The land has developed into a lovely biodiverse meadow that is already well used by the local community. Putting a plastic pitch into the Middleton Park Estate is not something that is supported by many, especially as we move towards a greener, carbon neutral future.

  2. The fact that the school, as stated in the article, is 65% below the required outdoor space for schools puts the lie to the cynical comment from Cllr. Groves that there will be sufficient in the way of facilities if the school were to use the John Charles Centre. Time and again this nonsensical argument is brought up. School lessons last for 50 minutes – it takes 15 minutes to walk to John Charles, 15 minutes to walk back and changing time has to be built in. Perhaps the good councillor – with her wide experience of the educational world – could explain to the school how meaningful sports activities can be carried out in that time scale, when only ten minutes of the lesson would be left.

    The school, in good faith and to the advantage of the council, took an extra 60 pupils who had no school place in south Leeds and for Truswell to say that the school had the council over a barrel is contemptible – in fact the council has reneged in the most egregious fashion on its agreement with the school – Truswell and other councillors should be supporting these facilities for the local children, as Mike Denim says above, not trying to obstruct them. Has covid not done enough damage without inept councillors jumping on the band wagon? Are these, I ask the people of Beeston, the ones you voted for, in the hope that they would look after the interests of you and your children? If you did vote for them, then you have certainly got the mediocrities that you deserve.

    1. Hi. The councillors are only expressing the views of much of the community who object to the loss of the parkland and the way the land swap was done without prior consultation with the community.

      1. The councillors didn’t even consult the local community when it came to building on recreation ground in Middleton what it is, is a certain councillor doesn’t like it being in her back yard for a change!

  3. See all that mass of green space, already inside the school boundaries that they don’t use at the moment?

    Yeah. Put it there.

  4. Since the school is unable to adjust timetables and use existing facilities, they should renovate their own natural grass pitch. This is currently not fully utilised. They can either fix the drainage and/or use pitch protection covers. This will save the council a considerable amount of money. The school disregarded previous concerns and foolishly built a car park on their own tennis courts despite being in an area with good sustainable travel options ( as outlined in the current application). The school also fails to grasp that artificial pitches of this type are due to be outlawed in Europe because they are a major source of microplastic pollution. It would be ecocide to approve this plastic pitch next to a nature reserve with surface water run off eventually discharging into the woodland stream. The application also includes the groundwork for lighting which will be detrimental to the wildlife in the nature reserve. Finally this is not a piece of derelict land but land that is already used daily by residents for informal leisure and recreation as well as providing wildlife habitat. There is no charge to residents or opening times to adhere to. The school on the other hand will control the type of activity, they will limit the times it can take place and they will charge residents for the privilege. This is not only the privatisation of public space but the creation of dead space for residents and wildlife.

  5. Who will be maintaing the site while the pitches are being put in place if planning goes ahead and not letting travellers up through the locked gate the Bike have keep secure

  6. Free space, green space is vital for leeds urban communities.
    Please cease this activity.

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