It’s four years since Beeston-based charity Aspiring Communities first floated its plans to convert the former Ice Pak factory on Barkly Road.
This week an independent Planning Inspector will hold a four day public inquiry into their controversial planning application. Hearings will be held at Leeds Civic Hall running from Tuesday 28 to Friday 31 March 2017.
The charity state their application is for a sports hall, to be used by the local community, together with a prayer room, classroom and office.
But opponents Save Our Beeston claim the building will host international meetings and have dubbed it a multi-storey car park. The plans are also opposed by Beeston Community Forum, Beeston & Holbeck ward Councillors and Hilary Benn MP. A key concern for opponents is the extra traffic the centre will generate. The site is in a largely residential area and close to St Anthony’s primary school.
Aspiring Communities argue that community facilities need to within the community and that they increased the number of car parking spaces in response to feedback on their original plans.
The inquiry will focus on the merits of the planning application and not the dispute between Aspiring Communities and Leeds City Council about the way the application was handled.
The Inspector will make a decision on the application which is binding on both sides, although the decision will not be made public until up to seven weeks after the hearing.
South Leeds Life will be publishing reports each day from the inquiry.
THE ICE PAK TIMELINE
January 2013: Aspiring Communities present their proposals to Beeston Community Forum.
June 2013: Aspiring Communities make a Pre-Application presentation to the South & West Plans Panel. Beeston Community Forum also address the panel setting out their objections.
December 2013: Aspiring Communities submit their first full planning application.
March 2013: In the light of significant opposition from local residents, Aspiring Communities withdraw their application in order to scale down the size of the development.
September 2014: Aspiring Communities present new plans for the site for public consultation. The plans no longer include a large meeting hall, catering and funeral facilities and no longer use the rear entrance and have increased parking spaces.
A public consultation meeting attracted 150 people.
October 2014: Aspiring Communities submit their second (revised) planning application. 80 individual objections are submitted plus a petition of 2,610 names.
August 2015: The South & West Plans Panel is due to decide on the application, but planning officers withdraw the item from the meeting’s agenda.
November 2015: Aspiring Communities lodge an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate for “non determination” (ie that Leeds City Council haven’t made a decision on the application within a reasonable timeframe).
February 2016: The South & West Plans Panel decides that Council should inform the Inspector that officers do not have enough information from the applicants to be able to make a decision.
September 2016: The Planning Inspectorate announce that the case will be decided at a four day public enquiry starting on 28 March