Cockburn sports pitches set for approval by Councillors

The planning application to provide new sports pitches at Cockburn School in Beeston looks set to be approved, albeit with strict conditions, as it returns to Plans Panel for a third time on Thursday (29 September 2022).

The controversial proposal to build a new full size 3G rugby / football pitch and tennis courts came about as part of the school’s expansion to cope with the growing need for secondary school places in South Leeds. The school currently has a 34% shortfall in outdoor sports space compared with Department for Education guidelines.

The pitches are to be built on part of the land previously occupied by South Leeds Golf Club (SLGC) which has now been incorporated into Middleton Park.

A position statement on the plans were first discussed by Councillors on the South & West Plans Panel on 7 July, this was followed by a full debate on the plans lasting over three and a half hours on 1 September.

Objectors have raised a range of issues including the loss of amenity and level access route into the park from Beeston, the loss of a historic footpath, concerns about pollution to the nearby ancient woodland ecosystem from the 3G pitch and the loss of 38 mature trees.

Alan Shaw from Friends of Middleton Park told the Panel:

“Our key objection is that this development will permanently change the land … Building a 3G pitch will require significant landscaping.

“The 3G pitch may look green but it will be devoid of life. The site is currently full of life with multiple species of butterflies, insects and birds identified. How can changing a thriving tree lined meadow to a plastic fenced off pitch be adding species biodiversity?”

Supporters of the scheme point out that children attending Cockburn School deserve proper sports facilities on site, that the pitches will take up less than 10% of the SLGC land, which was not publicly accessible until the club closed; and that trees will be replaced on a three-for-one basis in line with planning policies.

David Gurney, Executive Headteacher at Cockburn Multi-academy Trust told the Panel:

“Cockburn is described as a school working in challenging circumstances by the DfE with high levels of deprivation and the children who attend the school are part of the local community. They are the future of the local community. Cockburn is an outstanding school, only achieved by 2.7% of schools nationally, and if we want to still deliver an outstanding education, we need good to outstanding facilities for the children. And we’re only asking for what the children deserve.”

Cllr Andrew Scopes (Labour Beeston & Holbeck) and Cllr Sharon Burke (Labour, Middleton Park) made a written comment to the Panel stating:

“This is a really difficult decision with really valid points on both sides. We appreciate the time and effort that the residents have put into the consultation process, which we have read and we understand their concerns, which we sympathise with. However, on balance, our view is that the needs of the children of South Leeds must be provided for.”

The Panel voted to defer their decision to allow additional conditions to be drawn up around environmental management and biodiversity monitoring, construction environmental management, a community use agreement for the facilities and an end-of-life strategy for the 3G pitch. Officers are recommending approval of the planning application subject to these and other conditions.

Ther South & West Plans Panel meets on Thursday 29 September at 1:30pm at the Civic Hall and the meeting will be livestreamed via the Council website.

You can read the full report to Panel here

You can watch the 1 September meeting here


18 Replies to “Cockburn sports pitches set for approval by Councillors”

  1. Wandering past since the Schools went back I have seen a mediocre amount of use of the existing playing facilities. They use about half of the existing 3g pitch. I did see what looked like an attempt to play rugby on the existing grass pitch. The amount of playing space is a recommendation not a requirement. Ruth Gorse on Black Bull Street has less than a quarter of what Cockburn have and none of it grass. This is a land grab, empire building. The schools role count will be dropping soon as population growth has slowed and we have a new School in Middleton which will take away a large part of Cockburns catchment area.

  2. Daylight robbery.
    Public land,supports ecosystems.
    New trees will not be effective for years to come.
    Goes against council emissions and cleaner air systems.
    Already the school under use the sports pitches that they have yet they complain not enough? Does not make sense.
    Current pitches not maintained.
    Plastic turf is detrimental to environment.
    Schools oversubscribed because LCC is behind with building of new school. Poor planning knocking down other schools or using them for other purposes.
    This is all because people in responsible roles have not planned for the future and now take back land from the community because of a lack of foresight.
    I’m left appalled by the actions taken by LCC which has led to this.
    Leave the park,the trees,the land and nature alone.

  3. Well you can’t say they haven’t got all the detailed information that should have prevented this from happening.

    As far as I am concerned this is adverse possession (Land Grab) it belongs to the local community!

    It’s sad and disgusting!

    1. Colin

      Did the private golf course belong to the local community? No just a small group of people who could afford to pay Golf fee. Do the children of the school belong to the local community YES. Hardy a land grab!!!!!!

      1. Is it not just as important for the children of the local community to have outdoor green spaces such as this for recreational use after school, weekends and holidays? Let’s not forget it hasn’t been a golf course for years, it is currently part of Middleton Park and enjoyed by many local children as well as adults. I’m sure many local people will agree that it would be better if the school received funding to redevelop the land they already have, which the school claims cannot be used for part of the year as it is too muddy. Why not make that area a 3G pitch.

  4. The Ancient cobbled definitive footpath/bridleway is clearly shown on maps from 1935 before any of the houses were there and is a well used part of our history and a nature haven in itself. They have already destroyed part of it but this land grab stops people using and enjoying it at all. Just because this establishment was able to hold our council to ransom to take some extra pupils. Also remember as part of this our “green” council also allowed them to build an extra car park on some of their existing space going completely agains their policy and meaning less space for the pupils. Self inflicted lack of space Where is the logic

    1. Well the plans have been approved now regardless of the overkill of arguments from the Let’s Save the Golf Course Gang and the Friends of Middleton Park. I hope you wander past every day and at different times, so that you can actually see the usage – rather than, as you quaintly put it “Wandering past”. One must ask how often you happen to “wander past” using an overgrown lane and ignorant of the school’s timetables..

    2. This establishment did not hold the council to ransom to take more pupils. The school took in seventy extra pupils over the last 12 months AT THE REQUEST of the council – no other school in south Leeds was prepared to take them and so they would otherwise have had to be bussed to other parts of the city. The fact that the school agreed to take these children meant that the present school buildings were too small, and therefore the tennis courts had to be built on to provide extra accommodation. Obviously, there was then a knock-on effect. Incidentally, the car parking situation is not as simple as Ms Webster makes out – the school often has to use the cricket club car park as well as its own when hosting visitors. Where’s the logic she asks? Where is the logic in preventing new facilities for local children but giving priorities to bats and hedgehogs, which are hardly productive, cute though they may be. This school is amongst the top 3% of schools nationally and deserves support from the community in which it is a leading player, not ill-informed posts.

  5. 6 replies from local residents who have lost their sense of community as they pursue their addiction to online negativity. Why must you politicise this with talk of ‘land grab’ and trees? This is about our children! Our future. Keeping the young people in our community healthy and active is vital. Thankfully it is these young people that will be our future community long after your thumbs have stopped angrily typing.

    1. Have you checked out the hazardous chemicals in rubber crumb? Children are more vulnerable to chemicals. The health risk increases depending on frequency of playing on these plastic pitches or time spent in direct contact with the pitch material. So for example a child goalkeeper who plays frequently would be at much greater risk. Europe is banning them, their draft regulations were published on 30 August. They state it’s for their significant environmental impact and the potential health risks. Why risk your kids health? Demand real grass to play on!

      1. Im glad someone else is aware of this and not just me. It’s disgusting that this story berm swept under rug in recent years because to much money was thrown at these pitches. Kids and people’s health should come first. In most cases people don’t know risk and are just left on toxic material without knowing.

    2. Well, they can save their thumbs now, Mr. Michaels, as the plans have been approved by the council.

    3. Keeping young people in the community healthy is very important I agree. In west yorkshire there are lots of greens spaces, country side and fresh air so I’d forgive people who feel building a plastic pitch on park land is no big deal, however being so close to Leeds City centre Beeston has very few green spaces left. Don’t let it become like London where children are walking to school in concrete areas with few trees, high polution, and high asthma and cancer rates. We need to protect park land and green spaces for future generations. That’s why people are angry, it’s not because they dont want the best for the children, they just have a different point of view.

  6. anyone would think – listening to all these moaning minnies – that there aren’t already acres and acres of more open land available right next door where people can walk freely, and enjoy nature, and woodland walks, and grassland, and amenity space. There’s an entire ancient wood and parkland and ex-golf course short strides away. And you’re busy moaning about local children being given sports amenities? You really are a sad and sour lot. Think it speaks of jealousy and a small-minded mentality, when you can’t even appreciate the benefits that this relatively small addition to the environment this will bring to local kids and their extended families. Grow up and get lives. There’s masses of open space all around us to enjoy.

    1. Why haven’t they built a new school in Holbeck the council have overpopulated the South Leeds area and Cockburn is a feeder school for holbeck now

  7. Sam.
    Well said. Only in South Leeds would a small group of narrow minded people object to 5% of the former privately run golf course being allocated to the OUTSTANDING school (Ofsted 2022) leaving 95% left for community to use. So short sighted. Let’s celebrate Child Friendly Leeds and invest in the children. The headteacher should be given a medal for what he has achieved for the school, and then going on to transform the former South Leeds Academy now Cockburn John Charles Academy, a school now nolonger inadequate. We are lucky to have such school leaders in South Leeds. I bet other schools in Leeds would bite our hands off for such schools in their community. Come on lets get fully behind the Headteacher and school to benefit many generations of children who evidently are the local community.

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