Armley Park is our garden, we don’t want it to become a forest, but we do love trees!
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If you have been to Armley Park recently you will have seen the white lines that are appearing over the grass. These have been drawn as markers for an extensive tree planting initiative that is due to start in mid December. Under the current proposals, a huge area of Armley park will become a forest with over thousands 6000 trees being planted close together. This will significantly reduce the recreational areas and green open spaces. Friends of Armley Park saw the plans for the first time on Monday. We had been aware of planting but not to the extent proposed. We are angry that Armley Park will become a forest without community consultation.
As committed environmentalists, we are not opposed to trees, we are opposed to them being planted in the wrong place, we need them for future generations, we also need green and open spaces. This is particularly important in Inner City Armley, an area where most residents do not have a garden- the park is our garden.
Armley Park has had its fair share of problems over the years; anti- social behaviour, rough sleeping, a less than adequate children’s play area. Friends of Armley and Gotts Park have been working hard to bring people back into the park by promoting community ownership of the green space. This year (due to the pandemic) the park has been extremely well used and at times has been very over crowded.
Our aim is to make Armley Park and Gotts Park a more fun, interesting, playful, amenable, safe, active, inspiring, creative and community space for the people of Armley and surrounding areas. We have established annual community events in the park: The Cherry Blossom Festival, Teddy Bears picnic, Dog Show and Lantern Parade. Some of these events will be put in jeopardy if all the planting goes ahead. Park Run has also been a huge boost for the Park, we believe the tree planting will make the run harder for people to navigate and organise. Our aim is to make Armley Park and Gotts Park a more fun, interesting, playful, amenable, safe, active, inspiring, creative and community space for the people of Armley and surrounding areas.
Sacrificing a large proportion of the park’s green open space to meet Council targets is not in the best interests of the local community, and the plans have been decided upon by the Council without any information being made available in the public realm.
As one Armley resident says
‘The white markings are very close to the rugby posts and cricket pitch - which is really well used. It seems such a strange decision to put them right in the middle of the playing field! I think it's terrible that no consultation with the community has happened. The planting will massively alter the appearance of the park, and will restrict access to playing sports, sun bathing, kicking a football with my child. No one would be able to play rugby or use the top field once the trees are there. I completely agree with the comments above - that the way the trees will be planted does not enhance the park for the people of Armley who use it. I'm all for planting trees too - but I feel it should happen in consultation with the community, and perhaps they could be fruit trees, or bee friendly trees or flowers, for example.”
Why are we concerned?
- Safety- open spaces are important in a Park to discourage anti social behaviour
- Space- Armley park is just 14 hectares and not big enough to accommodate a mass tree planting programme. Under the current proposals residents will be left with just the 2 football pitches as open green spaces.
- Health – access to good quality open green spaces is essential for the health and wellbeing of communities,
- Community – Armley Park is publicly owned land and the local people who make use of it have a right to have a say on what happens to ‘their’ spaces.
We are asking for a pause to the planting plans in order for local residents living next to the park and the wider community to be consulted, our concerns to be addressed and other more suitable sites to be found for a forest in Armley or in other parts of Leeds.
Today: Friends of Armley and Gotts Park is counting on you
Friends of Armley and Gotts Park needs your help with “Leeds City Council: Armley Park is our garden we don’t want it to become a forest”. Join Friends of Armley and Gotts Park and 404 supporters today.