Elland Road – Marching On Together?

Match day parking permit plan scrapped whilst training ground planned for Holbeck

Leeds United’s recent success and bigger crowds have once again highlighted the problems suffered by residents in Beeston on match days.

The issue of fans parking on every available street within a 1km radius of the Elland Road ground has been a bugbear of residents for years. A possible solution was proposed by the Council over two years ago. In February 2016 they consulted residents about a Residents Parking Permit scheme to operate on match days.

Despite enquiries by local councillors, nothing more was heard of the scheme, until last month when senior Councillor Richard Lewis told the Yorkshire Evening Post:

The consultation and other background work – including aerial shots of the stadium and surrounding streets on matchdays – had “shown clearly that, although there was undoubtedly additional street parking on match days, it did not justify the introduction of a full ban on non-residents parking.

“There were, however a number of places (mainly at road junctions) where restrictions would improve road safety. The big concern, though, was that a residents’ parking scheme would simply displace the problem into adjacent streets.

“I have already raised with Leeds United the need for the club and the council to work together on other ways of getting fans to and from the ground that don’t impact on local communities. We will implement measures quickly and we will keep a watching brief on the situation over the coming months.”

Cllr Angela Gabriel (Beeston & Holbeck) commented:

“We are very disappointed with the decision the Council has finally made to withdraw the proposed Match Day parking permit scheme.

“Local people have been telling us for a long time about the problems they face every time there is a football match which is why we have campaigned for the scheme alongside residents. We managed to get the scheme agreed following substantial consultation which is why we fully understand residents will be extremely frustrated with this outcome.

“It’s really important now that we give Leeds United a clear message that they have got to offer residents in the area real solutions to the problems caused by parking from attendees at their fixtures, particularly as they bring forward plans for further development at Elland Road.”

Cllr Gabriel was referring to a decision that Leeds City Council enter into formal discussions with Leeds United regarding the potential development of a new club training ground in the city.

This follows a report submitted to the council’s executive board, which proposed that future talks be held between both parties regarding the possibility of the club’s official training facilities for senior and academy players being relocated to the currently vacant former Matthew Murray High School site in Holbeck.

Also supported by the executive board was a recommendation that further investigations be undertaken regarding the creation of a new ‘Community Sports Village’ at Elland Road’s Fullerton Park site (part of the current car park at the ground). If a decision is taken subsequently to move forward with these plans, it is proposed that both facilities would, subject to planning permission, open by 2020.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:

“I am pleased that the executive board has agreed that the council and Leeds United can begin talks around a potential new club training ground being developed on the old Matthew Murray High School site in south Leeds.

“We know from when the club was previously in the Premier League the impact that a successful and thriving Leeds United can have not just in spreading the Leeds brand around the world, but also in boosting the local economy. Just as important is the power that the club has in the city through its grassroots community and engagement work to enthuse, inspire and make a difference, especially to the lives of young people. The development of a Community Sports Village at the Fullerton Park site is a sign of a renewed ambition at the club to play a significant role in the life of the city off the pitch as well as on it – and that’s what’s been missing for far too long.

“These moves also tie in with our ambitions to regenerate Beeston and Holbeck, where the council has built high-quality council homes next to Holbeck Moor and brought empty homes back into use on Beeston Hill. This sits aside bringing activity and purpose seven days a week to the wasteland around the stadium through the ice rink, the park and ride and the police headquarters.”

Cllr Adam Ogilvie (Beeston & Holbeck) said:

“We supported the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan and residents who were seeking affordable housing for the Matthew Murray site. Given however the decision has been taken to support the site being used by Leeds United for their training ground, we are clear that we want to see, on behalf of the local community, a clear plan from the Club on how they will make sure people from Beeston, Holbeck and Cottingley benefit from this.

“We don’t just want cars driving in and then driving out again. Wouldn’t it be amazing if boys and girls from our area get the opportunity to play for Leeds United in the coming years.”