Agenda item

22/01376/FU - former South Leeds Golf Course, Gipsy Lane, Beeston

To receive and consider the attached report of the Chief Planning Officer regarding proposed new 3G pitch and tennis courts, and associated fencing up to 4.5m high, former South Leeds Golf Course, Gipsy Lane, Beeston



The report of the Chief Planning Officer set out a Position Statement in relation to a proposed new 3G pitch and tennis courts and associated fencing up to 4.5m high at former South Leeds Golf Course, Gipsy Lane, Beeston.


Members had attended a site visit and were shown slides and photographs throughout the officer presentation.


It was noted that representations have been received from Friends of Middleton Park and a local resident who runs a hedgehog facility, releasing wildlife on the proposed application site.


The Planning Officer presented the application, providing the following information:

·  The site involves a parcel of land forming part of the former South Leeds Golf Course situated to the immediate south of Cockburn Academy. The site incorporates a section of Leeds Public Footpath which runs in an east / west direction. The footpath connects Gipsy Lane to the west where residential properties and a boarding kennels and cattery are located.

·  The proposals will be used by students from Cockburn Academy and will be available for community use out of school hours.

·  The school fronts onto Gypsy Lane and consists of a large two storey structure which serves the main school building with 3 storey elements to the rear. It was noted that the school has a 35.5% deficit for soft outdoor PE space.

·  The western side of the site is more elevated than the east. Maps were shown to show an outline of the cutting required / land made up. The soil will not be removed from the site and is a sustainable solution.

·  There will be a 4.5m fence around the courts and 2.4m meshed fence along the boundary to provide some security for the school.

·  The diverted footpath will wrap around the proposed facility and connect to Gipsy Lane.

·  An overview of the materials that will be used for the proposals.

·  38 mature trees will need to be removed. The applicant is proposing off-site planting which amounts to 130 heavy standing mature trees. A considerable amount of shrub planting is proposed and achieves more than 10% of that required.

·   The site will be gated, and the footpath will be closed.

·  Ensuring the proposal doesn’t injure the openness of the greenbelt.

·  Representation seeking robust means assessment on the need for a Golf Course.

·  The applicant has carried out a full tree survey and ecological assessment. 3:1 planting proposed to take place off-site. It was noted that the trees lost will be category B and the value of trees against the climate emergency should be recognised in relation to carbon capture. Additionally, the biodiversity metric has been re-visited and re-calculated, and the nature conservation area has been re-consulted with no change on the survey findings. A response is awaited.


A representative from Friends of Middleton Park attended the meeting, and provided the Panel with the following information:

·  Friends of Middleton Park strongly object to the proposals and there is a small return / benefit for the community and the park. It was confirmed that the existing space is well utilised by the local community.

·  Concerns around re-modelling the land.

  • Felling mature trees to re-model the land cannot be justified.
  • Implications of potential flooding and being exacerbated by the schools existing pitch. Micro plastics may be washed into the local water course and harm wildlife.
  • Concerns about loss of existing cobbled right of way which has been in use since 1852. The proposed replacement right of way causes significant added distance and elevation and does not connect with existing rights of way.
  • Subject to proposals for flood lighting, this will cause harm to the woodland.
  • There has been minimal consultation from the school.
  • The proposals impact on access to greenspace for the local community.
  • Challenges in relation to the schools existing pitch should be rectified before putting in additional pitches.


The applicant provided the following information:

  • The school has a 1.2k capacity and has taken in additional children. The school has an outdoor play provision deficit of 35% and the proposed facilities increase capacity for rugby and tennis.
  • The school has been rated outstanding by Ofsted.
  • The school currently has a reduced sports offer.
  • The proposed development can also be made available for community use.
  • The former Golf Course was a privately owned business, that was subject to a decline in memberships and anti-social behaviour.
  • The proposed removal of trees is not covered by Tree Protection Orders (TPO) and there will be a 3:1 replacement, equating to 130 new trees being planted. It was confirmed none of the trees provided will be sampling size.
  • With the extensive shrub planting, there will be a biodiversity net gain of 21.95%, significantly above the required 10%.
  • Temporary loss of existing pitches and car parking.
  • To place the proposals on the schools existing pitches will not rectify the issues the school faces in terms of its deficit. The existing sports pitches are also located nearby residential homes.


In response to questions from Panel Members, the following was confirmed:

  • The school has a tennis court in the multi use games area.
  • All the existing outdoor facilities are used by the school and local communities. The facilities are used by the community in line with LCC lettings policy and charged in accordance with the LCC schedule. It was suggested that a new community agreement specifically for this proposal can be considered.
  • In terms of the water logging, the school have looked at rectifying issues. In was confirmed that the existing facilities are particularly difficult to use in the winter months but are still considered usable. The development proposed will not fit on the existing facilities. Even if the existing facilities are improved, the school will still have a deficit of 35% for soft outdoor PE space.
  • The 3G pitch provides the school with the option to provides multiple sports and is more durable. Members commented that a grass pitch can also be used during winter and a 3G pitch may destroy wildlife.
  • The existing sports facilities in the school are available to the community.
  • Clarity was provided on the number of car parking spaces provided, and it was confirmed there are 47 dedicated spaces for the pitches and an additional 60 spaces for staff. In response to this, Members raised concern regarding use of the schools parking facilities by the local community out of school hours.
  • There are no additional facilities for changing, and this will be located inside of the school.
  • The application doesn’t include flood lighting at this stage, due to the proximity to the ancient woodland. Flood lighting will be subject to planning permission in the future if applied for.
  • The diverted footpath is due to safeguarding reasons and the fencing around the pitches provides a secure boundary during school hours and lessons. It was confirmed that the footpath and gate during school hours will be closed and restricted for public use. The community use of facilities will be out of school hours. In addition to this, queried why the footpath will be closed for use of the local community out of school hours.
  • The applicant is proposing a 3:1 tree replacement with heaving standing trees and is exceeding the minimum requirement. Furthermore, there will be a 21.95% biodiversity net gain, again exceeding the minimum requirement.


Further to questions from Panel Members, officers confirmed the following information:

  • Clarity on the Executive Board decision relating to the application in June 2020. The decision related to pitch provision with a caveat subject to planning permission.
  • The tree loss is significant and retaining trees should be explored and examined. Carbon capture in relation to the 3:1 tree replacement should be considered.
  • The pitch presented is a tier 1 level pitch and is considered super league standard. It was noted that a tier 4 pitch usable for community / club level rugby is considered acceptable and can be accessed by communities. The pitch proposed will not fit on existing facilities.
  • It was confirmed that an LCC colleague from Parks and Countryside can be invited to a future meeting in determining proposals relating to this site.
  • Hard play has been lost as a consequence of the schools previous extension.


Members comments included:

  • The importance of sport was acknowledged in terms of the school wanting to expand on sport provision for their students.
  • Alternatives can be provided on a different site / type of pitch that has been proposed. The 3G pitch is deemed damaging to the woodland and issues with the site being fenced off is considered problematic for use of the community out of school hours.
  • The proposed site is a significant piece of greenbelt, used by the local community. Concern regarding the community benefit, in return for loss of greenbelt. There is an impact on local amenity.
  • The applicant should rectify existing issues with facilities on-site.
  • Landscaping issues.
  • Public access to parking facilities is substandard and parking provision needs to be looked at in terms of people with disabilities and drop off points.
  • Members required assurances that the facilities will be used by the local community.
  • A robust and enforceable community use agreement needed to be produced as part of the application.
  • Details of construction management plan required as part of application.


Responding to the officers questions as set out in the submitted report, Members relayed the following comments:

1.  Do Members wish to comment on these Green Belts issues? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information.


2.  Do Members wish to comment on the suggested very special circumstances put forward by the applicant and whether they clearly outweigh the Green Belt harm? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information.


3.  Do Members support the principle of considering this application without the requirement for a need’s assessment as suggest by Sport England? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information in relation to the need’s assessment.


4.  Do Members have any comments to make regarding tree loss and the proposed mitigation measures? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information.


5.  Do Members have any concerns or comments relating to ecology matters? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information.


6.  Notwithstanding the extent of tree loss, in visual and design terms, do members support the proposed layout and design solution? Members cannot comment without being provided with further information.


7.  Do Members have any concerns or comments relating to the potential impact upon the local amenity? Members relayed concerns regarding the impact on local amenity.


8.  Do Members have any concerns or comments relating to highway issues? Members raised concern regarding provision for disabled parking and drop off issues in proximity to the proposed site and to ensure there is adequate parking.


9.  Do Members wish to raise any other matters now? No further comments at this moment.


RESOLVED - To note the content of the report on the proposal and to provide views in relation to the questions posed in the submitted report to aid the progression of the application.


Supporting documents: