Save Our Scholes

SOS-bullet-pictureSince our last article on SOS (Save Our Scholes) late on last year, the group has gone from strength to strength and are now recognised as a force to be reckoned with both within the village and beyond.

For those not familiar, Leeds City Council as part of its Core Strategy has stated that Leeds needs to build 70,000 new homes to accommodate a debatable population increase. LCC have also decided upon an  East Leeds Extension with the area being asked to take a hit of upwards of7,000 of these new homes, some of which could be built on green belt land around Scholes, Barwick & Aberford as well as affecting Crossgates, Colton, Whinmoor and Thorner.

We met up with Caroline Wright, Adele Thompson, Mandy Munro and her daughter Seonaid to give us an update and a look back  over the last year.

 “It’s about the urbanization of East Leeds and the prospective East Leeds Orbital Ring Road. The Thorpe Park extension has been given approval in principle (it still has to be passed to Government for ultimate approval as it involves green belt land.) We find this to be a perplexing decision as it flies in the face of many of Leeds City Councils Green Policies.”  

At first SOS were seen as ‘trouble causers’ and perhaps not taken too seriously. But in the last year, they’ve forged links with the Campaign for Rural England who are putting forward a charter to protect green belt and give more say to local people. They’ve also linked with WARD, Wharfedale & Airdale Review Development who are fighting a similar battle around Guisley area.

 “Why destroy green belt forever when there are plenty of ‘brown field’ sites which could be redeveloped which will in turn be a positive for the city. But the developers don’t seem interested in that, they want to squeeze the maximum amount of profit out of the houses they ‘spit out and that can is easier for them on green belt land.”

We held a meeting in September where Dr. David Ingham from WARD spoke and also we were proud to share a platform with George Hall an indication of support for us from the much respected former parish councillor and Planning campaigner.

One of our main concerns of the whole planned development is the perceived lack of openness by the developers. They have met with Scholes Parish Council and also offered to meet SOS..but not in public and there does seem to be a lack of awareness all over East Leeds as to what is happening and how it could affect them.

 “We spoke with a business owner in Crossgates last week, he had very little idea what was going on regarding the Thorpe Park development  which is not just housing but a full retail park. By the developers own admission it could affect the trade of surrounding areas by 25%. In our opinion it will kill Crossgates as a high street Centre.”

One of the local victories SOS has had, was they were with the support and advice of George Hall instrumental in the removal of eight cameras which were installed without official approval by consultants retained by developers GMI Holdings.

“As well as the Big Brother style intrusion, we were concerned they were filming peoples movement around the school. The council demanded the cameras removal and all film was to be destroyed but if it wasn’t for SOS bringing them to light through the Village People Facebook page, we don’t know how long they might have been there.”

They also were responsible for leaflets distributed throughout the area in response to a developers questionnaire and consultation events which were held in late September.

“The questionnaire was loaded with questions like, would you like a better bus service or broadband etc? Obviously we’d all like this and would say yes but we were concerned it would be just lumped in as a thumbs up for the development.”

Our response was a leaflet which we turned round within 24 hours, which basically said if you are against the doubling in size of our village then just write ‘We DO NOT want these developments.’ We’d like to think we were succesful.

Another recent plus point has been the thawing of the Cold War between SOS and Scholes Parish Council.

“We always felt the parish council viewed us as something like the ‘Red Under the Bed’ although recently we seem to be singing the same song although going about it in different ways, which is fine. SOS has not got it’s ideals nailed to any particular political mast. We have members which cover the whole political spectrum but what we do have in common is the opposition to this development and protecting the village and it’s surrounding areas against unnecessary development.”


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One Comment

  1. I was lucky enough to move to Scholes in 1971 and attended the lovely primary school headed by the wonderful Mr Malloy, then later Boston Spa Comp.
    Sadly my family and I moved away in 1981. I have lived in Devon, Cornwall and Scotland just to name a few places but Scholes holds so many happy memories for me that I still regard it as my home and it truly is where my heart is and one day I hope to return there.
    I am deeply saddened to see what the future plans are for our very special village, plans made by people driven by greed as usual.
    All I can do is hope and pray you are successful in your fight to keep Scholes and Barwick safe from these people who would end happily preside over the end of these beautiful villages.
    My final message to you is good luck and PLEASE DON’T LET THEM DO IT.
    My very best wishes to you all.
    S Pearson.

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