Proof of Evidence


My name is Bill McKinnon. I am the chair of Friends of Woodhouse Moor, a group formed by local people in March 2006 in reaction to a plan by Leeds City Council to build a large pay and display car park on Woodhouse Moor for the use of visitors to Leeds University. Although the plan was eventually scrapped by the Council’s Executive Board on the 17th May 2006, the Friends have remained as a group dedicated to maintaining Woodhouse Moor as open parkland for the enjoyment of the local community.

Woodhouse Moor

Woodhouse Moor is the most intensively used park in the city with almost half the number of visitors of Roundhay Park, a park ten times its size (see page 59 of CD81). It is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the city, where many houses are without gardens and have doors which open onto the street. Large numbers of students live in the vicinity of the park and use it throughout the week and at weekends to play organised games of football and rugby. They do this because the university’s own outdoor sports facilities are several miles away at Weetwood and Bodington Hall. The result is that in Winter, large areas of Woodhouse Moor are churned into mud. Friends of Woodhouse Moor believes that this intensive use of the park is unsustainable and that relief needs to be provided in the form of additional local green space where sports can be played. The Leeds Girls High School site could provide this additional green space. (Woodhouse Moor is likely to be subjected to even greater use when the university sells Bodington and transfers its sports facilities to Clonmore Farm, even further away from the university campus than Bodington, and not even on a bus route).

The severe shortage of playing fields in the area means that the university might try to use section 106 agreements to establish formal playing fields on Woodhouse Moor for the use of its students. That is something the university tried to do quite recently when it was given planning permission to build on the former Leeds Grammar School cricket pitch adjacent to Woodhouse Moor. The risk of this happening again would be reduced if the Leeds Girls High School playing fields could be made available for public use.

The shortage of green space in the area is continually being exacerbated by the willingness of the planning department to waive the requirement of developers to provide large new developments with on site green space (this happened most recently when the council gave the university approval to re-develop the St Mark’s student flats complex on Raglan Road). The proximity of Woodhouse Moor is even cited as justification for dropping the on site green space requirement when the proposed development is some distance away on the other side of the ward.

Leeds Girls High School

Leeds Girls High School was a private school for girls established in 1876. In 1898, in an arrangement between the School’s governors and the governors of Leeds Grammar School, the School was taken over by the Grammar School Foundation. From that time onwards, the funds of the Grammar School Foundation were available to both schools, but at the discretion of the governors of Leeds Grammar School.

In 1906, the School moved to Headingley into purpose built premises now known as the Main School Building (see FWM1, FWM2 and FWM3). The building was constructed to the design of architect H S Chorley of the firm Connon and Chorley (see FWM4). Connon and Chorley was responsible for several important listed buildings including the Hotel Metropole and the Liberal Club (see FWM5, FWM6 and FWM7). The Main School Building was opened by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise (see FWM8). The opening ceremony was a grand affair attended by the Lord Mayor, the Vicar of Leeds, the Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, and many other civic dignitaries. At the ceremony, a gold key was presented to the Princess by the architect H S Chorley. Mr Chorley was chosen to be the architect as the result of winning a competition. He was a former pupil of Leeds Grammar School, which now wants to demolish most of the building he designed.

The listed building Rose Court was acquired by the School in 1912 (see FWM9, FWM10 and FWM11).

In 1997, Leeds Grammar School moved from the nearby residential area of Hyde Park onto farmland at Alwoodley, incurring a debt of £20 million in the process. In 2003, Dr Mark Bailey and Sue Fishburn, the head teachers of Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls’ High School respectively, announced a proposal to merge the two schools. At the time, Sue Fishburn was reported in the press as saying that there was no truth to the rumour that the merger would lead to selling off school land at Headingley. In a January 2005 Financial Times article, Dr Bailey said of the merger that the two head teachers had “cooked it up over a bottle of wine one evening, realising that . . . it was the right way forward for both schools”. Then in June 2005, flying in the face of the assurance that had been given in November 2003 that no land at Headingley would be sold, the merged School’s head teacher and chief executive, Dr Bailey, announced that the majority of the land at Headingley would be sold, and that pupils would be transferred to Alwoodley.

In Summer 2008, the Leeds Girls High School site was closed, and the School re-located five miles away to Alwoodley, into new buildings constructed on the greenbelt. Immediately after this, planning applications 08/04214/OT, 08/04216/FU, 08/04219/FU, 08/04220/LI, and 08/04217/CA were submitted to develop the School’s old Headingley site. Leeds City Council’s failure to determine these applications, led to the submission of the current appeals (references APP/N4720/A/10/2140564, APP/N4720/A/10/2140572, APP/N4720/A/10/2140575, APP/N4720/A/10/2140578 and APP/N4720/A/10/2140587). For further background information, please refer to Leeds Girls High Online.

Reasons to reject the appeal

  1. The Unitary Development Plan (UDP) states that it’s “a plan for the whole of Leeds”.  At paragraph 4.2.3 it states “the Council will seek to implement the Plan: (iii) by using planning controls: granting or refusing of planning permission, and taking enforcement action; and (v)  through its own actions as landowner, or by acquiring land” (see pages 33 and 34 of CD38). This means that the UDP is a prescriptive and not an aspirational document. UDP policy GP1 forbids development “Where the proposals map indicates a particular land use (or uses) for a site” (see page 35 of CD38). The UDP proposals map gives N6 status to the Leeds Girls High open space, and N3 status to an area immediately adjacent (see CD38A).
  2. UDP Policy N3 states, “Priority will be given to improving greenspace provision within the priority residential areas identified on the proposals map, or in locations readily accessible on foot to those residing in those areas” (see page 56 of CD38). The Leeds Girls High School site abuts a priority residential area, as can be seen from the UDP Proposals Map (see CD38A).
  3. The foreword to PPG17 makes “health and well being” a planning objective of PPG17 (see CD5). The Leeds Girls High School playing fields are adjacent to an area with a large Asian population. This ethnic group face greatly increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and South Asian children are recommended to acquire the exercise habit from an early age.
  4. Paragraph 10 of PPG17 states, “Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space or the buildings and land to be surplus to requirements. For open space, ‘surplus to requirements’ should include consideration of all the functions that open space can perform” (see CD5). There has not been a valid PPG17 assessment. The Leeds Girls High open space performs the following functions; it acts as a ‘green lung’ within a densely built up inner city area, it provides the setting for the listed building Rose Court, and it adds character to the Headingley Conservation Area (see FWM11, FWM12, FWM13, FWM14, FWM15, FWM16, FWM17 and FWM18).
  5. Paragraph 10 of PPG17 states with regards to proposals to build on open space, “Developers will need to consult the local community and demonstrate that their proposals are widely supported by them” (see CD5). Over 1,300 local residents, both MPs, all six local councillors and Leeds Civic Trust have objected to these proposals.
  6. Paragraph 13 of PPG17 states, “Equally, development may provide the opportunity to exchange the use of one site for another to substitute for any loss of open space, or sports or recreational facility. The new land and facility should be at least as accessible to current and potential new users, and at least equivalent in terms of size, usefulness, attractiveness and quality” (see CD5). The Leeds Girls High open space provides a ‘green lung’ within a densely built up inner city area, it provides the setting for the listed building Rose Court, and it adds character to the Headingley Conservation Area (see FWM11, FWM12, FWM13, FWM14, FWM15, FWM16, FWM17 and FWM18). The replacement open space at Alwoodley fulfils none of these functions. Also, the replacement open space at Alwoodley was already open space before the School moved there, so it can’t be said to be replacement open space.
  7. Paragraph 15(iii) of PPG17 states that playing fields can be replaced in a “suitable location” (see CD5). PPG17 leaves “suitable location” open to interpretation. Leeds City Council’s UDP policy N6(i) considers a “suitable location” to be “the same locality of the city” (see page 61 of CD38)
  8. UDP Policy N6(i) states, “Development of playing pitches will not be permitted unless there is demonstrable net gain to overall pitch quality and provision by part redevelopment of a site or suitable relocation within the same locality of the city, consistent with the site’s functions” (see page 61 of CD38). The Appellant is claiming that he has provided replacement playing pitches at Alwoodley. But Alwoodley is five miles away from Headingley and therefore the new pitches cannot be said to be in the same locality.

    The planning department agrees with the Appellant that the Appellant has satisfied the requirement of UDP policy N6(i) by establishing new sport facilities at Alwoodley. But if new sports facilities at Alwoodley really do meet the requirement of UDP policy N6(i), then why did the planning department not accept this argument several years ago when Leeds University wanted to build on the Grammar School’s old cricket pitch in Hyde Park ? The circumstances are identical. In both instances, a private school had left behind playing fields with N6 status, moved to Alwoodley and created new sports facilities there. So when the university wanted to build on the cricket pitch in Hyde Park, the planning department shouldn’t have had a problem. Instead, it required that the university establish replacement sports facilities in the same locality – on Woodhouse Moor. So, just a few years ago, the planning department accepted that “same locality” means what everyone understands it to mean. Now they claim that when a private school moves, the locality moves with it. This interpretation would mean that had the School moved to Harrogate, it would not have been required to establish replacement playing fields in Leeds, which would make a mockery of the UDP.

    The planning department’s reasoning is that the words “consistent with the site’s functions” over-ride the requirement of policy N6(i) that the re-location must be within the same locality. This reasoning depends on the interpretation of the word “functions” as meaning “playing fields of Leeds Girls’ High School.” But this interpretation is far too narrow. A far more likely interpretation of “functions” would be that it refers to the type of playing field, i.e. the replacement of like for like, a hockey pitch replaced by another hockey pitch, a tennis court replaced by another tennis court, etc. An alternative but less likely interpretation is that it refers to accessibility, i.e. that private playing fields can be replaced by private playing fields. These interpretations allow policy N6(i) to make sense. The planning department’s does not.

  9. .
  10. UDP policy N6(ii) states, “Development of playing pitches will not be permitted unless there is no shortage of pitches in an area in relation to pitch demand locally” (see page 61 of CD38). That there’s a shortage of pitches in the area adjacent to the Leeds Girls High School site is demonstrated by the fact that the six schools within one mile of the site have just 29% of the playing pitch requirement of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 (SPRs) (see CD73 and HTC1).

    In a report to Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive dated 14 January 2009, Education Leeds acknowledge the local shortage of playing fields (see CD84) :

    “It is acknowledged that the schools detailed in the deputation do not meet the minimum guidance” (paragraph 4.1)

    “However, the reality of many of these schools sites is that they cannot be expanded and that there is very limited opportunity to rebuild schools on local sites that do offer the chance to meet SPRs” (paragraph 4.5)

    “In considering the possible acquisition of the protected playing pitches for use by local Primary Schools, the view of Education Leeds is essentially sympathetic, in that the points made by the schools are valid in themselves as they have little greenspace of their own” (paragraph 5.1)

    In addition, a technical appraisal (identical to a PPG17 audit) using figures for participation in the game of tennis, Lawn Tennis Association recommendations, and local population statistics, shows that Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse need 8 or 9 more tennis courts, which means that the 7 on the Leeds Girls High site are not surplus to requirements (see HTC2).

  11. .
  12. UDP policy N6(ii) states, “Development of playing pitches will not be permitted unless there is no shortage of pitches in an area in relation to pitch demand locally” (see page 61 of CD38). That there’s a demand for pitches in our area is demonstrated by the fact that the heads of five of the six schools within one mile of the Leeds Girls High site have asked the Council to acquire the pitches for the use of their pupils (see CD93).
  13. On two occasions, Sport England has felt it necessary to remind the local authority that the Appellant’s planning applications need to be PPG17 and UDP compliant. In a letter dated 26 August 2010 (see CD85), they said:

    “Although Sport England is satisfied the proposal meets E4, we would like to take this opportunity to remind the Local Planning Authority that the requirements of paragraph 10 of PPG17 also need to be met” (see CD74 and CD5)


    And in an email dated 13 September 2010 (see CD86), they said:


    “We would like to clarify that Sport England withdrew its statutory objections to the planning consultations at the Leeds Girls High School site because they were considered to meet exception E4 of Sport England’s Playing Fields Policy, as set out in our letters. The withdrawal of our objection does not mean that the Council has satisfied the requirements of either its own UDP or PPG17. We would expect that the Council should still have regard to these policies during the determination of the planning applications.”

  14. The Leeds Girls High School playing fields are greenfield sites. This means that there is a presumption against their development. Paragraph 14 of PPG17 states, “Parks, recreation grounds, playing fields and allotments must not be regarded as ‘previously-developed land’, as defined in annex C of PPG3″ (see CD5). As well as being playing fields, these spaces are the gardens of the Main School Building and Rose Court. Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) was amended in June 2010 to remove gardens from the brownfield classification (see CD2).
  15. The Appellant seeks to establish that the Leeds Girls High School open space is incorrectly designated as playing fields. But this is not a material consideration for this appeal. The time to have made this objection was when the playing fields were first given the N6 designation in the draft UDP.
  16. The Appellant seeks to establish that the Rose Court tennis courts have not been used as tennis courts for some time. But a photograph taken in June 2008 shows the tennis courts still to be in use with their nets in place (see FWM18). And satellite imagery from June 2006 shows all four courts with their nets in place and no cars parked on them. (see FWM19).
  17. The proposed change of use and structural alterations to Rose Court would cause the loss of important internal features including vaulted ceilings (to make way for new stairwells), a spiral staircase with wrought iron balustrade and mahogany handrail, and very likely, six panel mahogany doors (see FWM20, FWM21, FWM22 and FWM23). These alterations would diminish the architectural value of the building and therefore be contrary to UDP policies N15, N17 and PPS5 (see page 70 of CD38 and CD4).
  18. The sub-division of the curtilage of the listed building Rose Court would devalue the historic interest of the site which would be contrary to UDP Policy N12 (see page 67 of CD38). Compare the proposed new Rose Court boundary with the original boundary. (see pages 9 and 13 of CD62).
  19. The proposed alterations to Rose Court to create 8 flats would adversely affect the character of the listed building and comprise over-development which would be contrary to UDP Policies N13 and N14–17 (see pages 68, 69 and 70 of CD38).
  20. The new build proposals are an over-intensive use of the site and as such would detract from the Conservation Area and the settings of the various listed buildings both on the site itself, and on the other sides of Headingley Lane and Victoria Road. The proposals are therefore contrary to UDP Policies N12 and N13 and N19 (see pages 67, 68 and 71 of CD38).
  21. The design for the Main School Building was decided by competition. The winner was H S Chorley of Chorley and Connon, architects responsible for listed buildings such as the Metropole Hotel, Quebec Street Liberal Club, Spring Bank, Oulton Hall, St Edward’s Vicarage, and Ida Hospital at Cookridge, all of which are listed. UDP Policy N12 states “The best buildings of the past should be retained” (see page 67 of CD38).
  22. The planning applications wrongly indicate that the intention is to retain all of the original Main School Building and state that the School Hall and other areas to the rear are later additions (see page 65 of CD64). In fact, the School Hall, and other areas to the rear are part of the original building opened in 1906 by Princess Louise. If the School Hall were not part of the original building, the 1906 opening ceremony could not have taken place in it, and suffragette Sophie Jex Blake would not have been able to say at speech day in 1907, that it was the prettiest school hall she had ever seen (see FWM24, and FWM25). The original plans approved by Leeds City Council on 31 March 1905 show the extent of the original building that was given planning permission (see FWM26). The Appellant wants to demolish the rear half of the original Main School Building including the School Hall, claiming that they are later additions to the original Main School Building. The Appellant has been making this claim that the School Hall and rear of the building are later additions, ever since the planning applications were submitted in 2008 and the planning department has been, and still is, supporting the Appellant’s contention. (see page 65 of CD64, CD46 and CD76).
  23. Page 63 of the Design and Access Statement, Main School Site dated 29 June 2010 states, “All new buildings will have a contemporary look…” (see CD64). This conflicts with our own view and the view of Stephen Varley, the council’s Principal Urban Design Officer who has said, “In basic terms, the housing on the ‘Main Site’ should be of very traditional nature” (see CD80).
  24. The newbuild proposal includes a 4 storey block. But according to the Council’s Principal Urban Design Officer Stephen Varley, in his memo dated 5 September 2008, “The housing should not be more than 2 storey, especially opposite the Rose Court building. Any flats / apartments should not be more than 3 storey” (see CD80).
  25. The School’s consultant Roger Wools states at paragraph 6.7 of his report dated 27 June 2008, “The stone gymnasium . . . makes a modest positive contribution (to the Conservation Area) as does the main school building” (see page 18 of CD45).UDP Policy N18A states, “There will be a presumption against any demolition of a building or parts of a building which make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of a conservation area.” (see page 71 of CD38).
  26. Disturbance caused by children and adults playing on the open space that would remain (labeled ‘Landscaped Amenity Space’) in the area in front of the Main School Building would detract from the amenity of the residents of the proposed surrounding blocks of flats owing to their close proximity to the open space (see CD75). This would be contrary to UDP Policy BD5 (see page 6 of the appendices to CD38).
  27. The proposed development could potentially house 570 residents in mostly flatted accommodation. This would further increase the proportion of non-family housing in the area and also increase population density in this already densely populated area. The proposals are therefore contrary to UDP Policy H15 (Area of Housing Mix, which seeks to redress the balance between family and non-family accommodation), against PPS1 (“support existing communities”, “contribute to the creation of safe, sustainable, liveable and mixed communities”) and against PPS3 (“create sustainable, inclusive, mixed communities”, “deliver a mix of housing”) (see pages 172 and 173 of CD38, and CD1 and CD2).
  28. .
  29. When the Grammar School re-located from Hyde Park to Alwoodley, it exchanged a 7 hectare site in Hyde Park for a 60 hectare farm at Alwoodley plus cash (from Leeds University). Then when Leeds Girls High School decided to follow the Grammar School to Alwoodley, the planning department made a case for additional building on the green belt at Alwoodley to accommodate the expected influx of pupils. At paragraph of a report to councillors dated 6 July 2006 (see page 144 of CD77), the planning department said:

    “Outdoor play space and play provision within schools is seen by the Government to be an essential part of the modern curriculum. When assessed against the Department for Skills and Education guidelines, LGHS provides approximately 17% of the recommended level of external playing pitches/playing fields, although a greater proportion of hard play, games courts and soft play area are available. Overall, the school provides 29% of guideline figures for external play. There are no realistic opportunities for materially improving the existing situation at Headingley. The shortfall in facilities would, however, be overcome at Alwoodley Gates.”

    According to the School’s website, the pupils at Alwoodley enjoy the use of:

    • 14 rugby pitches
    • 14 football pitches
    • 5 cricket pitches
    • 8 hockey pitches
    • 25 tennis courts
    • 10 netball courts
    • 12 rounders pitches

    By contrast, the five primary schools within one mile of the Leeds Girls High School site have almost no open space.

    A fundamental tenet of English law is that it should be administered using equitable principles. How can it be equitable for a planning department to have allowed a school to build on the green belt, and then for that same planning department to recommend that that same school also be allowed planning permission to build on the inner city equivalent of the green belt?



  1. CD1ttPPS1
  2. CD2ttPPS3
  3. CD4ttPPS5
  4. CD5ttPPG17
  5. CD38 – Leeds Unitary Development Plan (Review).
  6. CD38A – Leeds Unitary Development Plan Proposals Map.
  7. CD45 – Consultant Roger Wools’ report dated 27 June 2008.
  8. CD46 – Statement of Common Ground
  9. CD62 – Rose Court Design and Access Statement – Issue 3, 29th June 2010.
  10. CD64 – Design and Access Statement, Main School Site – Issue 3, 29th June 2010.
  11. CD71 – Comments of Rob Murphy as a Local Resident.
  12. CD73 – The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999.
  13. CD74 – Sport England’s “A Sporting Future for the Playing Fields of England”.
  14. CD75 – Drawing 2006-239/050 Revision Q.
  15. CD76 – Demolition Drawing 2006-239/601 Revision C
  16. CD77 – Report to Plans Panel East dated 6 July 2006.
  17. CD78 – LCC Conservation Officer Rob Murphy’s memo dated 5 August 2008
  18. CD79 – LCC Conservation Officer Rob Murphy”s memo dated 8 August 2008
  19. CD80 – LCC Principal Urban Design Officer Stephen Varley’s memo dated 5 September 2008
  20. CD81 – A Parks and Green Space Strategy for Leeds
  21. CD84 – Education Leeds report to the Executive Board dated 14 January 2009.
  22. CD85 – Letter from Sport England to the Planning Dept dated 26 August 2010.
  23. CD86 – Email from Sport England to the Planning Department dated 13 September 2010.
  24. CD93 – Letters from head teachers
  25. FWM1 – Photo 26.4.2008: Facade of Main School Building
  26. FWM2 – Photo 26.4.2008: Side and rear of Main School Building
  27. FWM3 – Photo 26.4.2008: Rear of Main School Building
  28. FWM4 – Photo 1906: Main School Building architect H S Chorley
  29. FWM5 – Photo 264.2008: Hotel Metropole
  30. FWM6 – Photo 26.4.2008: Hotel Metropole
  31. FWM7 – Photo 26.4.2008: Liberal Club
  32. FWM8 – Painting 1915: Princess Louise
  33. FWM9 – Photo 26.4.2008: Facade of Rose Court
  34. FWM10 – Photo 4.5.2008: Lobby of Rose Court
  35. FWM11 – Photo 26.2.2008: Rear of Rose Court
  36. FWM12 – Photo 26.4.2008: Area in front of Main School Building
  37. FWM13 – Photo 6.3.2011: View of Main School Building from 37 Victoria Road
  38. FWM14 – Photo 6.3.2011: View of Rose Court from 37 Victoria Road
  39. FWM15 – Photo 26.2.2008: Area in front of Main School Building
  40. FWM16 – Photo 26.4.08: Main School Building tennis courts
  41. FWM17 – Photo 26.4.08: Rose Court tennis courts
  42. FWM18 – Photo 23.6.08: Rose Court tennis courts
  43. FWM19 – Satellite imagery 9.6.06: Rose Court tennis courts
  44. FWM20 – Photo 4.5.08: Rose Court room with vaulted ceiling
  45. FWM21 – Photo 4.5.08: Rose Court spiral staircase
  46. FWM22 – Photo 4.5.08: Rose Court spiral staircase
  47. FWM23 – Photo from CD62: Six-panel mahogany door
  48. FWM24 – Photo 4.5.08: Main School Building School Hall
  49. FWM25 – Photo 4.5.08: Main School Building School Hall
  50. FWM26 – Plans approved 31.3.1905. The Main School Building ground plan
  51. HTC1 – Table showing the shortage of local playing fields based on the SPRs
  52. HTC2 – Local Tennis Audit