HISTORIC allotments which were part of a "wellbeing legacy" after the First World War are under threat from a plan to build 46 houses.
The land, in the middle of Guiseley's Silverdale Estate, was set aside nearly a century ago as part of a movement to improve the health of the nation. But now local people say a large part of the legacy will be lost if development plans are allowed.
Silverdale Action Group is fighting the application by Stonebridge Homes. The group says the proposal has been submitted well before the future of the site is decided by a Planning Inspector. People are being urged to oppose the application, with a deadline of April 28. Details can be found on Leeds City Council's Planning Public Access web site with the reference 17/01262/FU.
Campaigner Roger Davis said: "Our allotment has been in our family for nearly 60 years; over the years, some of the surrounding allotments have been bought by people wanting to build on the land and they’ve left the land derelict, rather than let them be tended. In the past, there was a thriving community with people growing vegetables, keeping pigeons, chickens and even pigs.
"We are very worried for the future of our smallholding if the development goes ahead, along with the problem it is likely to cause with flooding in nearby gardens – the land hereabouts is very wet, and many neighbours already have pumps to cope with water in their garden."
He stressed: "It’s heart breaking to see the land as it is when there’s a huge waiting list for public allotments which is why I contacted Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum and together we submitted a plan to Leeds City Council to have the allotments designated as Green Space. If the owners don’t want to work the allotments they should be rented out to those who do, or sold to either LCC or a Community Trust. This could bring them back to the thriving, growing heart of the Silverdale estate rather than the eyesore it has become."
Jennifer Kirkby from Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum said some of the allotment holders and Stonebridge had decided to "jump the gun" ahead of the Inspector's decision.
Guiseley and Rawdon councillor Graham Latty said: "Residents of the Silverdales are generally opposed to any development of the site and are writing to the planners in big numbers."
He added: "Leeds is short of Allotments and should be seeking at the very least to retain what it has not let land hungry developers build on it."
Stuart Natkus from planning consultants Barton Willmore, the company acting for Stonebridge, said: "The site has consistently been identified as an appropriate site for new homes by Leeds City Council in their site allocations plan. Stonebridge Homes carried out a public consultation event in 2016 and identified the thoughts of local residents, including matters of highways safety and drainage. The application has considered the comments of local people in designing the layout and is fully supported by technical reports on a number of subjects, including a detailed flood risk assessment, drainage solution and transport statement. Stonebridge Homes are fully committed to delivering high quality homes, including affordable homes in this highly sustainable location."