On Saturday (24 January 2015) St Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck hosted the latest Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum.
The meeting was disappointed to hear that the old Matthew Murray site has been taken off the ‘Site Allocations Plan’ (a local council document). Originally the site allocations had penned the old secondary school grounds which had been left abandoned for seven years for mixed use (housing, recreation and business). This also included some imaginative suggestions by the public, such as an ‘urban farm’ or revitalising the running track and building sustainable housing. However, this has since been taken off and is ‘unavailable’.
This means that it will not be included in the plan even though it is within the designated boundary. Dennis suggested the forum write to the head of planning at the council to raise our concerns over what the site might be used for. All that were present agreed and that any developments that were out of the neighbourhood plan’s hands, could have an effect on the overall vision of what the plan is striving to achieve. Dennis then suggested a trip to the Lilac self build housing in Bramley would be a useful visit for the forum to take one day in support of our letter.
The sun had brought out regular members and some new faces too. Items on the agenda included the drawing up of the plan due to come into force in September 2016. The forum has been going over two years with support of Planning Aid UK, businesses, residents and volunteers. The forum is slowly coming to the second stage of process by compiling all the evidence gathered into a ‘draft plan’.
Dennis Kitchen (chair) welcomed everyone to the meeting and briefly gave a potted history of the last couple of years and how they’ve reached the stage they have. A questionnaire which was carried out by the volunteers over the summer (2014) at various venues in the community has helped prepare the ‘Draft Policy Intentions’ these are available to view at the www.holbeckneighbourhoodplan.org.uk website in the ‘meetings’ tab. These will then get made into ‘a policy type brochure’ which the forum will take back out to the public over a six week period covering June/July this year.
Thanks to ward councilors, Angela Gabriel and Adam Ogilvie they arranged a last minute addition to the agenda. Mark Ireland from ‘Leeds Neighbourhood Approach’ through the council, works to support tenants and landlords by either helping improve poor quality housing or helping sell empty houses. Mark was happy to visit the forum and confidently tell of the success the program has seen in Armley and other parts of the city. They will be working within the ‘Recreations’ later this year.
Mike Dando from Planning Aid UK who has been with the forum since the beginning explained that the planning aid funding was coming to an end, but that didn’t mean the support to the forum would. The plan, originally a government support funded program does have financial stability and additional specialist support can be applied for through various funding. Eve Tidswell (Friends of Holbeck Cemetery) and board member, announced the successful bid for funding to receive a ‘Bridging Grant’ through Locality. This will fund a planning consultant to translate the draft policy intentions into a brochure to be used in June/July. Mike was confident this would help firm up a timetable which will mark the key milestones.
The meeting ended with promises of more exciting events to look forward to. Keep an eye out on the website www.holbeckneighbourhoodplan.org.uk
Thanks to all who supported the refreshments on Saturday the lovely bread from Venus is always a winner as was the soup!
Next forum meeting: Saturday April 25 2015.