The local police have submitted a planning application (ref 12/01402/FU) to relocate from the Belle Vue Road depot to a site on Woodhouse Lane owned by Leeds University. The proposed new site is located opposite the old BBC studios.
The planning application states:
The proposal is for West Yorkshire Police to relocate the Belle Vue Neighbourhood Policing Team and Proactive Crime teams into the building to be used as an operational base for local policing. Currently the existing teams for this area are located in Belle Vue Garages on Belle Vue Road. These premises are in a state of disrepair and with the growing spending pressures it is not economically viable to the Force to spend money on these premises are earmarked for disposal.
As a result of this consideration, the Local Division has invested time and effort into negotiations with Leeds University with regard to obtaining access to premises in or around the University Campus.
Recently it has become clear that the University see this as a very positive move and from a police point of view the Campus is very close to Belle Vue and offers many opportunities for improving the policing service in and around the Campus and the tens of thousands of students who surround it and the policing hotspot it occupies.
In addition the integration of the Police into University premises assists the University strategy to become ranked with the top universities worldwide.
The planning application goes on to say:
Various forms of consultation have taken place directly with the residents/businesses in the area principally the immediate adjacent property owners of Unipol and the Grind Café have been consulted over the intended use – both occupants have no reservations and support the enhanced Police presence in the area, feeling that the increased level of visibility in the area will give the community more confidence in crime reduction and personal safety.
But what about the residents of Hyde Park and Woodhouse?
A few years ago, our local police inspector applied for permission to have parking bays for police vehicles on St John’s Road, outside the existing depot. In support of his application, he stated that the presence of police vehicles on the street would deter crime in a high crime area. But now the police want to quit our area so they can police the university campus. Don’t they know that the university has its own security service to police its campus? Don’t they know that the crime in this area occurs outside the university campus, and not in it? They’ve planned this move without any consultation with the community which has played host to them for decades. And they’ve forgotten that it’s the permanent residents of Hyde Park and Woodhouse who pay for the police service, not Leeds University.
Possible land swap?
In 2001, the Grammar School’s former headmaster boasted how he had single-handedly arranged the school’s relocation from its Moorland Road site to Alwoodley. He said that prior to the move, he and the university’s vice chancellor had had secret meetings at which the headmaster agreed to accept a farm at Alwoodley and a large cash sum, in exchange for the school’s Moorland Road site. He said that secrecy had been essential so that no one could object to the scheme until it was too late. The result of the deal he struck is the massive new Law School which totally dominates the Victorian houses at the top of Belle Vue Road.
The police have told no one about their intention to quit the Belle Vue Road Depot. This planning application is the first intimation of such a plan. Could this be stage one of a secret land swap arranged with university? A couple of years from now, might we see another massive university block on this site, to match the one they already have at the other end of Belle Vue Road?
How to object
You can object to this application either by using the council’s online form or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org If you send an email, remember to quote the planning application reference number and give your postal address. The deadline for objections is Friday 18th May 2012.