Councillors alert residents to Ice Pak planning application

 

Councillors in Beeston & Holbeck ward have taken the unusual step of writing to local residents alerting them to a controversial planning application.

Residents in the Cross Flatts area bounded by Cross Flatts Park, Beeston Road, Old Lane and Dewsbury Road will receive the letter this week. You can download a copy of the letter here: Former Ice Pack Site – Planning Application – 13.12.13

Aspiring Communities, the group who own the former Ice Pak site on Barkly Road in Beeston, have submitted an application for planning permission for a mixed use development including a sports hall, community facility, commercial catering business and offices.

Ice Pak artist impression Dec13
Artist’s impression of the new centre

 

Details of the plans can be found online at www.leeds.gov.uk/publicaccess using the reference 13/05214. Copies are also available at Beeston Library and at the Leonardo Building, Rossington Street in the city centre.

At a pre-application hearing in June 2013, Councillors on the South and West plans panel criticised elements of the plan and Beeston Community Forum objected to the application on the grounds that the centre would generate additional traffic. It is understood that Aspiring Communities have amended their plans in the light of the feedback and the planning papers include a Transport Assessment undertaken by consultants Amey.

A number of objections have already been lodged, many of them referring to a leaflet distributed by the Beeston Campaign For Affordable Homes. The leaflet gave no contact details, but it emerged at a recent meeting of the Beeston Community Forum that the leaflet was produced by Forum member Bill Birch, a former Conservative Party candidate.

In their letter Councillors David Congreve, Angela Gabriel and Adam Ogilvie alert residents to the planning process and how they can lodge letters of support or objections. Anonymous comments will not be considered and comments are published on the internet along with all documents relating to the planning application.

27 Replies to “Councillors alert residents to Ice Pak planning application”

  1. The BCAH leaflet I received says “Dr. W J Birch [BCAH – Honorary Secretary] 28 Grovehall Parade, LS11 7AE” on the bottom, i.e. Bill Birch from the community forum.

    I wasn’t clear what the connection was between ‘Beeston Campaign for Affordable Homes’ and blocking the religious centre plans, but this YEP story suggests BCAH want affordable homes built on the site rather than the religious centre: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/multi-faith-leeds-centre-plan-would-just-be-far-too-large-1-5794141 …but why not mention that in the leaflet?

    As I can find no other info online about BCAH, and as they seem to be an offshoot from the Beeston Community Forum, I’m left with the suspicion that their ‘campaign’ only exists for the purpose of opposing the religious centre. Perhaps someone from BCAH could clarify? Opposing the centre might be the right thing to do, I don’t know enough about it myself, but I certainly oppose fake campaigns!

    1. Thanks John. As I understand it, the first version of the leaflet was anonymous, clearly a second version has been put out. Although I live in Cross Flatts I have received neither version.

  2. Thanks for the link Jeremy.
    I was aware that Bill Birch had previously stood for council election, but didn’t realise that was as a conservative.

    The BCAH and Beeston community forum have no affiliation.
    The only connection is that Bill Birch was elected as a new forum committee member at the recent AGM.

  3. Multi Cultural Society – what’s the make-up of the Beeston Forum, because I’m getting some bad feedback about the forum. Something stinks about the whole situation and the way it’s being looked at let’s deal with planning facts only and not allow the forum to have any other agendas and steer the community.

    1. The YEP quotes Mark Parry from the Beeston Community Forum as saying on 24 June that the “Beeston Community Forum want affordable housing built on the site”. We now find Mark Parry’s fellow Beeston Community Forum committee member Bill Birch behind the (initially anonymous) “Beeston Campaign For Affordable Homes” whose sole purpose seems to be to oppose the Ice Pak planning application.

      I’ve emailed the Beeston Community Forum secretary to ask if he can shed some light on this.

  4. As above, Beeston community forum and BCAH are separate entities and not affiliated in any way.
    Beeston community forum meets on the first thursday of the month in the community centre which used to be the old library next to Hugh Gaitskell school. The meetings are open and all Beeston residents are welcome.

  5. The issue we have with this is the volume of people that will be going to it every day! It’s going to be worse than a supermarket there?

    We are already crippled every other Saturday with Leeds Utd match day traffic and they park outside my house, this “centre” is expecting 500/1000 people every day (allegedly) a tiny street like Barkly Road simply cannot accommodate such traffic.

    Not only that you have a small primary school just yards away, the increase in traffic will be a danger to school children.

    This isn’t about being “multi-cultural” the majority of people living at this side of Beeston are white British, mixture of Asian and eastern European. There is no need for this centre to be in an area that the local community will not be able to utilise.

    Everybody can see the design of the picture is a Mosque and all us local residents can see it. It’s an eye sore.

  6. It’s not as ugly as Old Lane asda.

    I share concerns about traffic but fear the issue is getting clouded by an Islamophobic agenda – see comment above.

    People need to be honest about their concerns. Anonymous leaflets are just creepy.

  7. I honestly think its the size and the traffic thats the main issue here.Surely in this day and age we are all used to different religions and communitues, this is Beeston we arr talking about so lets be sensible.

  8. Having looked at the plans I would say that area is totally unsuitable for that building.The disused site on Old Lane near Asda would be better.Surely there are more suitable sites than this.
    I have nothing to do with committees or forums but Im interested to know why Lutel is implying there is some kind of race/religious agenda.

    1. The race card is the easiest one to use, when opinions that they do not like are being voiced.
      It shuts people up very quickly.

  9. I accept the Beeston Community Forum and the “Beeston Campaign For Affordable Homes” are not affiliated Rich. The issue for me is: who is behind the BCFAH (just Bill Birch and Mark Parry?), what is their agenda, and what have they been doing in addition to opposing the Ice Pak development?

    Hopefully the answer to these questions will make the fact that 1, possibly 2 of the 10 Beeston Community Forum committee members are behind BCFAH nothing to be concerned about.

    1. Hi John.
      For clarity, I am the vice chair of Beeston Community Forum (BCF), though standard disclaimer that any comments here are obviously my own personal views and opinions….

      Apart from Bill Birch, I don’t know who else is involved in the Beeston campaign for affordable homes. Neither do I have any knowledge of their activities other than the leaflets that I have received at my home. Only thing I can suggest is that Bill is contacted if more information is required about the members of the group and its intentions.
      Bill has been a long serving member of the BCF committee, but was not a member of the committee during the 2013 period. He was elected back onto the committee at the recent (5/12/13) AGM. To my knowledge, that is the full extent of any connection between BCF and the campaign for affordable homes.

      In an earlier comment you did mention Mark and his statement at the pre planning hearing. Mark is a member of the BCF committee and attended the pre planning meeting as a representative of BCF. He read a statement that was prepared in advance and agreed by the forum committee.
      I’ve gone back to the meeting minutes and the full statement can be found in section 8 here:
      http://btckstorage.blob.core.windows.net/site1015/Beeston%20Forum%20Agenda%201st%20August%202013.pdf

      Part of the statement Mark delivered was:
      “The site has outlying planning permission for residential development and this appears on the Leeds site allocation plans “Your City Your Say” currently under consultation. In view of the shortage of housing we feel this residential usage is a priority”

      I can see why you may link this with Beeston campaign for affordable homes, but this statement was just a reiteration of the existing council plans for the site – that the site would be best suited to housing development.

      As I said earlier, the BCF meets on the first Thursday of the month at the Beeston Village community centre and everyone is welcome to attend and contribute.

  10. I live near the Ice Pak site, I see Asian men, opening and closing the iron gates, I take it they are Muslim, not Sikhs/Buddhists, and I also assume this means this is a Muslim project and nothing to do with the majority of local people.

    If this is a “community” project I don’t see any local Beeston people, Is this place a front for Muslims to gather, who will own the site? who funds it? Will it be open to men women and children and if so, will there be a strict policy on non segregation, i.e. will men AND women be allowed to sit together in the same room. It’s funny people moan about Islamaphobia and yet put up with speakers from that community demanding men and women don’t sit in the same room, as the recent University debate outlined, moderate religion, for now, whilst they are in the minority,

    Can you and who ever runs this website assure me that this will be a “Open to every one” project, sorry but I am sceptical.

  11. Hi Paul,

    This is the response we (Aspiring Communities) provided yourself on 25 December.

    Many thanks for the email.

    Taking your points in turn my dear friend.

    Firstly, your correct the gates are open and closed by our Muslim charity volunteers, however we have volunteers and representatives from all races, genders and religious backgrounds, some of which you would have seen on site over the past months.

    To remove any scepticism you may have, our/your community project is a truly groundbreaking and flagship project for Leeds and a wider model for UK.

    Basically, to answer you question the project and facilities are established on the principles of “open access” for all of the community. To go beyond the rhetoric we have the facility segregated into 3 parts for both secular and religious use as necessary to satisfy the needs of the entire community rather than one group.

    As such, the community and sports facilities and multi faith facilities will accommodate what you would expect to see in typical facilities of this nature, both men and women together and clearly separate in the multi faith areas respecting religious and cultural beliefs as necessary.

    To provide the governance for this facility we have developed over 13 partnerships with local community groups, with 12 of 13 from non muslim backgrounds to put you mind at ease, who will run, deliver and manage the community programmes.

    As such the site will be open to all, men, women, children, the old, the young and further more for both able bodied and physically challenged with programmes developed to suit the specific needs of individuals, groups and the local community.

    The site is owned by the charity Aspiring Communities registered with the Charities Commission, with the initial board comprising of firstly British and secondly Muslims, with a vision to give something back for a change to our communities to encourage harmony, tackling stereotypes head on through partnership working with the ultimate aim to advance the entire community irrespective of race, culture, faith or gender.

    The vision and concept we propose is not without difficulties, sensitivities and the erosion of stereotypes from all perspectives of the community. ..but as you know in life. ..no pain no gain. In fact, the majority of our development is for secular rather than religious use, so hopefully we are demonstrating by fact rather than fiction.

    In summary this will be successful but only if philosophically and fundamentally everyone works together. ..this happens in most business environments throughout the UK, so why not in a social setting?

    I hope your queries have been answered satisfactorily and we look forward to meet you in due course, many thanks for your honest and transparency.

    1. ha ha –looks like a done deal, make barkly road a taxi rank oh and how much lottery grant would you like.

  12. Just a few questions

    1) why are you trying to build this mosque in an area where it is clearly not wanted by the local people that live there , please put it on the other side of the park if anywhere at all.

    2) Dont you think its a bit sad that all the support comments on the councils panning application site , are by the muslim community and 99% from other areas of the country , up to the 28th dec not one support comment is from the white community in the surrounding area.

    3) you state this will be a multi faith facility , what facilities or prayer rooms will there be for the christian , hindu , jewish , buddist or any other non islamic religion ?

    4) why are doing more to destroy community harmony than build it , we dont want this mosque in our area it will do nothing but cause disruption and mayhem

  13. Yaz, thanks for your comments – they’re helpful.

    The issue that’s not clear to me is whether this is a multi cultural facility for the benefit of all the community or an Islamic centre with access to those of other faiths and none. You mention governance in your comment with ‘over 13 partnerships’ with local community groups’ but I note all the charity’s trustees appear to be Moslem and are men.

    My second question is similar to David’s third point and relates to whether you will be willing for other faiths to worship in the building.

    I should make clear that I have absolutely no problem with the building of a mosque or what I have termed an Islamic centre on ‘my ‘ side of the park. One possible explanation for David’s second point is racism from non Moslems which unfortunately has bedevilled this while issue but it is a bit surprising if none of the ’13 partnerships’ has indicated support on the planning application.

    My concerns are that is this a mosque or Islamic cnetre with a wide range of ancillary features then that’s fine (in principle – see below) but it is important to be clear about this as otherwise there is a feeling that people are being misled.

    I think the central planning issue is whether the proposals represent over-development of the site and the potential for disturbance to adjacent residents with traffic and parking major concerns. It would help a great deal if additional parking could be provided the purchase of the (more or less) adjacent site, which is currently for sale, to provide additional parking would greatly help.

    People need to be aware that the preference that has been expressed by some for affordable housing on the site is a very large red herring. No one has offered to build such housing. The choice in the immediate and probably medium term future is between something along the lines Aspiring Communities are offering (assuming they can finance this) or an increasingly derelict site.

  14. I have had no contact with the promoters of this scheme but have recently spent some time looking at the application and the letters of support and objection on the Council’s Planning Portal (unfortunately not accessible today for some reason).

    My view is that this is an innovative project that deserves all our support – whatever our ethnicity, religious background, colour or beliefs.

    Why is this my view?

    I was brought up a Jew and (like million of others) do not currently practice any religion.

    I have lived and worked on both sides of the Park, as a volunteer for 8 of the 11 years that I have lived in Beeston, helping to provide sporting opportunities for our young people of any colour, religion or country of birth who live in our area.

    I know that, despite what some people are saying, we cannot afford to turn down the opportunity of accessible, modern, indoor community facilities, especially sporting ones, in our area.

    Through my voluntary work in the community I know that it is absolutely possible – and beneficial – for our young people of all colours and religions to live, be educated and play together.

    This proposal is aimed at contributing to breaking down the barriers that exist between communities. I for one – and I know that I am not alone in Beeston – wholeheartedly welcome that.

  15. Steve please read the objection comments on the council website , which has crashed ?
    maybe to stop more protest comments

    Every comment simply enforces the point that we dont want a large mosque on our side of the park , simple as that.

    Why should we have to suffer so the islamic community can cross the park to use the new facilities?

    There are plenty of take aways on dewsbury road / beeston road why do we need more ?

    According to comments on the council site there is no facilities for disabled people or changing rooms / showers for the alleged sports facility , can aspiring please confirm their true intentions for this site and cut out the community multi faith bull

    And as far as i know islam is a religion not a race , so how can people be racist for commenting against it ?

  16. David, I don’t doubt there are a significant people on the west side of the park who don’t want the proposed building but you write as if there are no Moslems on this side of the park.

    Islam is a religion but the ethnic origin of most Moslems in Leeds is south Asian. I don’t think people are necessarily racist for objecting to the proposal but I have no doubt that many people are objecting because the proposal is from people whose skin colour is not white and are being racist. People need to be honest with themselves – if the proposal were the same in terms of scale and activities but being presented by the Church of England would people object to it in such numbers and so forcibly?

    As far as I can see the potential ‘suffering’ will be noise and traffic which are both factors which will be assessed when the planning application is considered.

  17. I have only just heard about this proposal – living on the Cardinals puts me just out of the area.

    From what I have read – if the facility is as it says – for the community – then I believe it is something the area needs

    Unfortunately religion is going to be a big issue – a lot of people now are non-denominational and will not attend based on that fact alone.

    For it to work it must be for the community, run by the community and religion taken out of the equation.

    I too have lived both sides of the park and have seen how both sides have developed over the years and understand that there are concerns about a religious backed facility being at this side of the park.

    I also know about the parking issue – I live on the Cardinals near the church and on a bus route – yet the traffic from the church regularly causes such a bottleneck the buses struggle to get through – people cannot get out of their drives due to cars being parked so close – and across the drive in some cases. And that is from a church going, caring, friendly group of people.

    So I believe there will be a lot of issues.

    The site on old Lane is by far better – for traffic control etc – but it really does need to be a community project.

    1. I absolutely agree. A multi faith religious centre is the most ridiculous idea anyone has ever thought of. Religion doesn’t bring communities together, and especially numerous faiths with different views and opinions will only segregate them more. Take the religion out and the tower that clearly makes the building look like a church or mosque and you may get somewhere. What would that tower do for the building anyhow? It is a residential area too and like someone else mentioned, the site off Old Lane is way more accessible and central to all of that area of Beeston

  18. it seems thankfully that Unaspiring communities have withdrawn the plans for this site.
    Not sure what they might come up with next, but keep vigilant.

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