YP Letters: Concern over Yorkshire County Cricket Club's development plan

From: Martyn Thomas, Chair, Weetwood Residents' Association, Leeds.

Yorkshire cricketers Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root leave the field at Headingley where redevelopment proposals have run into controversy.

WE read with interest of the intention of Yorkshire County Cricket Club to start development of the Headingley ground.

The applicant’s case for 
very special circumstances relies on the ‘enabling’ role of 
the Tetley Fields and Tingley sites in generating funds for investment in the Headingley stadium.

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This planning submission is starting to concern a significant part of the Leeds population. There are currently 560 objections to the proposals.
The applicant’s case in support of this application relies on the demonstration of ‘very special circumstances’.

They claim that if the sites are not released now for housing development, in advance of the proper plan-making process, then through a convoluted and unsubstantiated argument, Headingley will lose Test match cricket status and the city’s economy will be undermined.

These claims lack foundation, have not been supported by proper evidence and, in any event, would need to be properly tested before such an important planning decision could be made to allow development in the Leeds green belt.

No specific ECB guidelines have been presented against which the proposed improvements can be judged in terms of their suitability.

Neither has any substantive financial analysis been made public to show the detailed costings of the improvement proposals and the funding 

No substantive evidence has been provided of how the proceeds of the sale of land for housing in the green belt will address a definitive funding gap in the stadium project.

No clear evidence is presented to give any certainty that the proceeds of the sale of the Tetley Fields site is required to enable the stadium development to go ahead.

No compelling evidence has been provided to give any assurance that if the proceeds were put into the stadium, 
that then the outcome would be to secure Test cricket at Headingley.

This is, therefore, an entirely speculative proposal and comes nowhere near the meeting the ‘very special circumstances’ test required to justify development in the green belt.

We must be clear that we are not opposed to the development of Headingley.

However, this development cannot – and should not – be funded by the wilful destruction of green space.