Connecting Leeds is the name chosen by Metro and the Highways Department for their latest transport scheme. It’s the successor to New Generation Transport (the failed trolleybus scheme), an earlier brainchild of Metro and the Highways Department. The purpose of both organisations appears to be to remove as much green space and heritage as possible along the A660. If the latest scheme goes ahead, the inbound bus stop at Hyde Park Corner would be enlarged, resulting in the loss of several mature trees. The central reservation would be removed and it’s lighting columns re-located to the verges on either side of the the dual carriageway. This would result in the loss of a great many trees which otherwise would block light from the re-located street lamps. The scheme would also result in the loss of all the outbound York stone pavement, and an unspecified amount of the grass verge inbound between Hyde Park Corner and Rampart Road. It would also create a new inbound bus lane on the grass verge and York stone pavement between Rampart Road and Raglan Road. If you think this sounds similar to what was being proposed under New Generation Transport, you’d be right. Only this would be even worse.
Until 1953, all of Cinder Moor was covered in grass. It had been like that since 1884 when the council levelled it to form a cricket pitch. in the 20th century, it was used for playing football on as well. Then in 1953, the council designated the site as a heliport and covered it in cinders. Although the planned heliport was never built, nobody ever played on it again. Instead the council allowed the university to use it from time to time for overflow parking for visitors to the university. The city re-designated the site as green space in 1973, but never restored the original surface. Until it was “scalped,” a process which began on the 19th December 2019, half of the site looked as shown in the above photo. Scalping removed all of the soil and grass which had accumulated over the years, and replaced it with re-cycled tarmac, in effect, doubling the site’s car parking capacity. The process of scalping could not have taken place without the agreement of the Headingley councillors, in whose ward Cinder Moor is located.
Leeds University made two planning applications to re-develop its St Mark’s Flats site adjacent to Monument Moor. The first was application 10/00407/FU made on 3.2.10. The second was application 11/04449/FU made on 20.10.11
Here’s a copy of the officer’s report dated 20.5.10 on the first planning application. At paragraph 10.39, it states that the university wanted all of the £150,000 s106 greenspace contribution to be spent on improving Monument Moor and Cinder Moor. It also states that officers wouldn’t agree to this, and recommended refusal of the application if the university didn’t agree to what they wanted.
The application was approved on 26.10.10 just four days after the university had signed a section 106 agreement (dated 22.10.10) agreeing to what the officers wanted. Isn’t this called blackmail? Here’s the section 106 agreement.
Then, in 20.10.11, the university submitted amended planning application 11/04449/FU. Here’s the officer’s report. The application was given approval on 17.1.12, one day after the university signed a section 106 agreement very similar to the one it had signed a year earlier.
The first £73,757.32 was payable on the first occupation of the flats (ie October 2013). The second £73,757.31 is payable on the first anniversary of the occupation of the flats (i.e October 2014). The money must be spent within ten years of it being given to the council. Half of the money must be spent on greenspace improvement in the area. Half of it must be spent on Woodhouse Moor.
The council promised as part of the agreement to consult with local councillors AND local residents to find out how they want the money spent (so far there’s been no consultation with local residents).
When the Valentine’s Fair comes to Leeds from the 14th to the 23rd of February, it will re-locate from Elland Road to Woodhouse Moor, more specifically, to the part of Woodhouse Moor nick-named “Cinder Moor.” Cinder Moor was levelled in 1884 to create a cricket pitch. It was used as such until 1953 when the council re-designated the area as a heliport, which was never built. The site was not restored to grass even though it was re-designated as green space in 1973. The council intends that visitors to the fair, should park their cars on neighbouring Monument Moor. Monument Moor was levelled in the late 19th century to create an outdoor gymnasium. The gymnasium’s swings gave the this part of Woodhouse Moor its former nickname, “Swing Moor.” The swings were removed during the war to make way for an air raid shelter. This was removed in 1950 when the site was being prepared for the visit the following year of the Festival of Britain Land Travelling Exhibition. Flower beds were created to ornament the Exhibition. The council promised to permanently maintain these flower beds, but failed to keep its promise. The still extant large area of tarmac dates from the time of the Exhibition, as do the tarmac paths. The site’s current nickname, “Monument Moor” comes from the statue to the former mayor H R Marsden. This statue used to be located at the top of Albion Street. It had been in storage for many years when it was relocated to Woodhouse Moor in 1952.
Beginning just before Christmas, on the 19th December 2019, Leeds City Council staff began the “scalping” of Cinder Moor. Scalping is the process of removing soil and grass that has accumulated on the surface over the years. We were told that this was being done to prepare for the arrival of the Valentine’s Fair in February. But this fair comes every February and Cinder Moor has never needed to scalped previously. What we were not told was that this year, the Valentine’s Fair coming to Cinder Moor will be the very large fair previously held annually on Elland Road. When asked if this much larger fair would be returning in February 2021, a senior Leeds City Council officer stated that this would depend on whether or not the fair’s management wanted the fair to return to Cinder Moor. The scalping of Cinder Moor has effectively doubled its car parking capacity.
A third tent has appeared on Woodhouse Moor. The council and the police failed to remove the others, so it’s hardly surprising. No doubt the Moor will soon be host to an entire tent township. Presumably the council and police would prefer to have rough sleepers and sex workers operating on Woodhouse Moor than in the city centre. Where are our councillors when we need them? Out of sight and out of touch, as always.
Another tent has appeared on the Moor. This one is located in the centre of the large flat area which used to be used by football players until it became too marshy. Like other tents that have appeared on the Moor, it’s unlikely that the authorities will take any action to remove this one.
“Connecting Leeds” is described by the organisations behind it, Leeds City Council and Metro, as a “bus consultation.” A bus consultation might be considered to include proposals for altering bus timetables and routes. The Connecting Leeds bus consultation is all about proposals to widen sections of the A660 from Otley Old Road to Raglan Road. It’s proposed to:
Woodhouse Lane as it crosses Woodhouse Moor is already the widest section of the A660 between the town centre and West Park. Now Leeds City Council and Metro want to make it even wider.
The deadline for responding to the consultation is the 3rd August 2018. You can make your views known here.
The area now known as “Cinder Moor,” used to be called “Low Moor.” In 1884, at a cost of £400, it was levelled to create a cricket ground. Low Moor continued as a cricket ground, and then as a combined cricket ground and football ground until 1953, when the area, along with other sites across Leeds, was designated as a heliport. Although never used as a heliport, the site was not restored for green space usage when it was re-designated as a green space in 1973.