Fight to stop homes replacing ‘vital’ club

Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.
Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.
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Residents have stepped up their fight against plans to build new houses on sports pitches.

Wakefield Council wants to relocate West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club from Sandal to Walton so it can sell the land to developers.

Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.

Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.

And this week Persimmon Homes WY & Charles Church WY submitted plans to build 184 houses on the current sports site, which is used by football, tennis, cricket, rugby and bowling clubs.

The move, which has angered people living in both areas, is set to cost taxpayers more than £1m.

Residents in Sandal have been fighting for 20 years to protect the site after it was first earmarked for housing in the Local Development Framework (LDF).

Gail Stephenson, chairwoman of Sandal Community Association, said: “We are against the houses as it will increase traffic in an already busy area and put more pressure on school places.

Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.

Members of Sandal Community Association outside the West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club.

“We worry about the viability of the club, should it move, and also the fact that we will be left with no green spaces other than at Sandal Castle.

“We will fight it all the way, but how much difference we will make, I am not sure.”

Sandal councillors Monica Graham and Nadeem Ahmed said they will oppose the planning application.

Coun Ahmed said: “In this current climate it makes you wonder whether it is the best way to spend £1m. We should be making the most of what we have and look to improve the current sports facilities.

“The idea has been around for a long time, but they cannot use the excuse of needing more houses as I don’t believe many young families will be able to afford these houses at £250,000 and £350,000 each.”

Coun Geoff Walsh, leader of Wakefield Conservative Group, said: “It is very clear now that Wakefield Council are putting their desire for greater council tax revenue and capital receipts from the sale of development land ahead of the needs of local residents in Sandal.”

It is unclear how much the council will get for the land, but it has allocated £1.14m in its budget for the relocation of the sports club.

Labour cabinet member Coun Denise Jeffery said: “We are working closely with the club and are proposing to relocate the facility only a short distance. We have submitted plans for a new facility that will provide improved facilities and encourage people to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

“I can sympathise with people who get very attached to facilities like this club. But this site has long been identified for housing which is much needed in the district.”