People given the chance to shape growth

The Government has approved a bid for part of Leeds to be one of the first inner-city areas in the country to prepare a neighbourhood plan to help shape future development.

Under the proposals local people in the Holbeck area of Leeds will be taking the lead and will come forward with their ideas. The first task is to establish who will sit on the new Holbeck neighbourhood forum that will oversee the process.

As the one of the national front runners, Leeds City Council will also provide additional support to help the Forum prepare a neighbourhood plan.

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Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said last night: “This is a chance for people in Holbeck to have their say about the place they live and how they would like to see it grow and develop.”

Neighbourhood plans will allow communities to have a say in what is built where and what it could look like. They can also be about other issues that are important to the local community. However, they must be ‘pro-growth’.

It aims to give people a chance for their plan to be taken into account when any development is proposed in the area.

For those living and working in the Holbeck area of the city, famous for its industrial heritage, the plan represents an opportunity to tackle some of the problems facing the community and make sure it survives and thrives.

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Ian Pickup from residents’ group, Voice of Holbeck, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the residents and businesses of Holbeck to work together to prepare a plan which will shape the future of the area.

“The plan can cover anything that the community feel is important, giving us the chance to deal with some of the long running problems in Holbeck,” he added.

Holbeck was the cradle of the industrial revolution in Leeds which has left behind a legacy of industrial heritage and listed buildings including Temple Works, an historic mill designed to resemble the Egyptian Temple of Horus at Edfu, which made a significant contribution in the early 19th century to the industrialisation of textile production in Britain.

In recent years parts of the area have been transformed as the city centre expands, but there is still work to do. The creation of an urban village has introduced new bars, restaurants and businesses to the area.

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Neighbourhood plans will have to work alongside the plans of the local council and national planning policy.

The Government have provided £20,000 to help local people in Holbeck to prepare a neighbourhood plan. Before this can happen, a neighbourhood forum will be formed made up of at least 21 members who live, work or do business in the Holbeck area.

To kick-start the process, the council and community representatives have organised a drop in event on Saturday 30.

It will take place between 11am -3pm on Saturday at St Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck. It is an opportunity for those attending to discuss how the Holbeck the area could be improved and to recruit members for the Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum. Local residents, community representatives, council officers and others will be on hand to answer any questions.

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Coun Gruen, added: “Neighbourhood plans offer a real opportunity for local people who care about their communities to get involved in planning their neighbourhoods at the grassroots level.

“I’d urge anyone who either lives or works in Holbeck to go along to this event and find out how they can get involved in shaping their community in the future. “

Mr Pickup added: “It would be good to see as many people as possible at this first event so we can start to talk about what the plan should cover and how we can make Holbeck a better place.”

Those in favour of neighbourhood planning say it puts power back in the hands of local people but opponents say if they are adopted in many places it is debatable if officers will have the necessary time to help communities.