Headingley Neighbourhood Area was proposed by local residents on 1 April 2014 and was designated by Leeds City Council on 22 October 2014.

The Headingley Neighbourhood Area has at its focus Headingley Centre and has been adapted from, but extends beyond the boundaries of Headingley Ward.

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The Area is focussed on the historic core of Headingley which dates back at least to Anglo-Saxon times when it was the site of a meeting place at the Skyrack (Shire Oak). Its history is continuous, evidence survives in place-names and buildings, and even a fragment of the old village green.

The Area now has its own particular demographic, distinct from both the rest of the city and its neighbouring Wards. In 2011 Headingley Ward (used as a proxy for the Area throughout, although the Plan Area differs slightly from the Ward boundaries) contained 20,533 people[1]. However, the balance of the population was significantly skewed by the disproportionately high number of young adults. Two-thirds were aged 19-24. The proportion of older adults in the population reduces markedly through each of the age bands until by pension age few older residents remain: only 4% were 65 or over (compared with 16% nationally). At the other end of the age spectrum, the area contains very few children: only 4% to age 17 (21% nationally). Despite the low number of children a significant proportion, 18.6% of 0-16 year olds, live in poverty.

Although the majority of the housing stock comprises 2 or 3 bedroom family homes we live in a rented environment. Two-thirds of Headingley’s homes are privately rented, and there are over two dozen letting agencies in the centre. Since most of these tenants are students (two-thirds of the population) the majority of the population changes annually. The Council currently has a Working Group studying student accommodation, especially in Leeds 6. Its Report Current housing market conditions in Leeds 6 (2013) notes:

… over the Inner North West Leeds area as a whole there have been significant changes in housing demand and market conditions over the last 5 years which are generating a range of challenges to address if the area as a whole is going to be sustainable, with a healthy and balanced housing market and the quality of environment and amenities that will make it a popular and pleasant place to live

However, the Area is remarkable, for such a high density, urban area, in also having significant expanses of green space, which to a large extent, form its natural boundaries. Meanwood Beck is an obvious eastern boundary, bringing Woodhouse Ridge within the Plan Area. This extends through a green corridor, alongside Leeds City Academy (formerly City of Leeds School, at Bedford Fields), to the edge of Woodhouse Moor. Similarly, to the west, Batcliffe Wood and BeckettPark are included and the Park forms the north-western boundary. Our proposed Area includes these green spaces, as they are an important resource for residents and we want to ensure that they are valued, protected and maintained for our use and that of visitors.

The Harrogate line railway cutting is another obvious and recognisable feature which, to a large extent, separates residents who look to Headingley Centre for shops, services and entertainment and those whose focus is more naturally towards Burley or Kirkstall. To the south, Victoria Road forms another divide. Defining it as the boundary of the Area also signals our support for our neighbours in South Headingley who wish to set up their own Neighbourhood Plan, south of the road.

The inclusion of the Beckett’s Park estate at the request of the Beckett’s Park Residents Association, who regard Headingley centre as their local centre, takes the area slightly into Weetwood Ward. Similarly the area east of Queenswood Road is included at the request of residents in the Foxcrofts who have links to ARARA and Beckett’s Park residents and see themselves as naturally part of the proposed Area. Their inclusion extends the Area into Kirkstall Ward. North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association has also requested that their area be included as they also look to Headingley Centre. And this takes the Area into Hyde Park & Woodhouse Ward, up to the boundary of the Neighbourhood Design Statement.

Beginning on Otley Road, and travelling clockwise, the boundary of the Area runs along Shaw Lane & Grove Lane, including the grazing field in the corner of Grove and Bentley Lanes, and then follows Meanwood Beck, bringing Woodhouse Ridge into the Plan Area, plus the bandstand allotments above the Beck. It then follows the border of the Neighbourhood Design Statement, along the perimeter of Leeds City Academy (City of Leeds School), then along Woodhouse Street.  It skirts north round Hyde Park Corner Local Centre. The boundary then runs down Victoria Road until it meets the stone boundary wall of the former Zoological Gardens, where it follows the wall which forms the southern boundary of the Cardigan Triangle. Continuing north it follows the railway cutting to the Queenswood Drive/Kirkstall Lane crossroads where it then runs up Queenswood Drive and right up Queenswood Road to the point at which the road meets the south west corner of Beckett’s Park. Running up the westerly edge of the Park, it continues to follow the boundary of the Park east around to St Chad’s Drive. It then follows the Drive to the northern edge of the Beckett’s Park estate, and back onto Otley Road.

These boundaries were discussed and proposed by representatives of all the residents groups within the plan area. 23 residents and local councillors took part in initial discussions on 20 February 2014 and nominated a Steering Group of 12 representatives (subsequently approved as a Steering Group by INWAC Planning Group) to explore the options for the Area boundaries further. The Group met several times and defined these boundaries which were presented for consultation. In all, 14 local community organisations have been involved in this decision making. Each of these has undertaken to explain the Neighbourhood Plan process to its members and discuss the Plan Area with them.

Headingley Centre functions very much as a local Town Centre (indeed, it is designated as such in Leeds Core Strategy), with shops, pubs, a community centre, a market, library, banks, restaurants, medical centre, churches, primary school and Children’s Centre, as well as a mixture of large and small, national and local businesses. Residents recommended proposals for the development of the Centre in Headingley Renaissance in 2005.

There is a strong local sense of neighbourhood. In 2010, the Council adopted as SPD the Headingley & Hyde Park Neighbourhood Design Statement, prepared on their own initiative by local residents. As well as the residents’ groups already described it is a centre for other connecting social networks such as Headingley Development Trust, and Headingley Community website and mailing lists.

Despite being part of the Leeds Metropolitan area, Headingley has a distinctive character and natural boundaries which clearly differentiate it from neighbouring areas and makes it special to all of us who live here.

[1] Census data 2011