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I agree, but its totally 'pie in the sky' - with the price of land such as it is in the city centre.QUOTE]

I don't understand why public space provisions in Leeds are pie in the sky.

Fred; Could you explain this in the context of how every other city can have such public spaces. Its not like land is cheap in Manchester,London or Sheffield yet these have all got amazing public spaces.

The quirky water features throughout sheffield and the winter gardens are excellent; and these aren't even an addition to a private structure (which lumiere will provide) but publicly funded (Im pretty sure of this but don't know for certain).

Manchester too has amazing (if not overly green) public spaces which makes visiting the city much more fun (barable :D)

Things like large maps also make the city a lot more inviting and easy to get round (of which the afformentioned cities have).

And the idea of pocket parks which have been integrated into the the Harewood scheme, I think we all agree is not enough in such a large developement. I would have liked to see a green or at least something which could have added a bit of atmosphere.

Also, I would like to see more done with Woodhouse Moore as it is the the nearest "big" green area to the city centre. This area has a great atmosphere during summer. I would just like it to be shared by everyone and not just students.

SirCW: I didnt know about the projects to open up the rierside so thanks for that. I hope this is also implimented along with signs and overtly public coridors so we know where we can and cannot go. The average city member wont go exploring, they don't have the confidence. What is sad is most of my friends from uni don't even know where the docks are and have certainly never walked along the river.

Well Joey, I would agree with you about the open spaces in other city centres and the maps and the fountains. The lack of green spaces in Leeds city centre is a historic thing and in my opinion is in part due to the fact that I think, uniquely of the large cities, Leeds was spared large scale bombing destruction during the war. In fact in March 1941, in our worst air raid, the only city centre buildings to be hit were the Town Hall, (which caused very little damage) and the Museum then on Park Row (that had to be closed). There is much boasting by the city council about how Leeds is one of the greenest cities in the country, but of course the green parts are not where we really want them - in or very near to, the city centre. As to why apparently little provision has been made in the Harewood/Eastgate scheme - well blame the developers/ planning committee etc. But to ask for the demolishing of property like the St. John's Centre to provide some green space is totally unrealistic. I have already commented on how greenless are our existing public spaces and I would think, for starters, that Victoria Gardens should be made to live up to its name ! Also what green space we do have should be promoted more. For example, Park Square is very pleasant and is easily accessible now by the free city centre bus. Do citizens/visitors know about it ?
 

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Some limited green space could be made in the small squares like Central and Dortmund, however I think the real potential is at Victoria Gardens. It is right for Millennium and City Square to be paved I think, but Victoria Gardens would do well to be green. There is some green space n Trevylan Square. Some potential for green space is available around the CornX bus point, and on roofs of buildings.
 

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There is much boasting by the city council about how Leeds is one of the greenest cities in the country, but of course the green parts are not where we really want them - in or very near to, the city centre.
Is that where we really want them? It's the city centre - it is by definition urban. People come to the city centre to work, to shop, to eat and drink and dance. Even in cities with larger open green areas in the city centre than Leeds, few people travel from the suburbs to use them. Open spaces and appropriate planting are of course important but I don't feel that green expanses are wise or useful in city centres. I don't think that patterns of use justify it to any great degree. The hours that most people spend in a city centre are spent at work, at shops, or at night. Outside of those hours, they leave the centre for the suburbs where the amenity space is (hopefully) available at the times they have most opportunity to use it.

I'd support an increase in Park Square style spaces for the benefit of workers and the increasing city centre population. And I'm hearing arguments that the new population need green spaces to enjoy their homes. But how many city-dwellers have moved to the city for greenspace? They move there to experience the urban environment and what that has to offer. I don't mean to sound like a git but if you want a suburban environment, live in the suburbs. And that is generally what people do.

The lack of grass in Eastgate/Harewood doesn't bother me. What does concern me is that we should get urban spaces and streets of the highest quality for the urban centre of the city in that scheme.

What I'm driving at is that grass does not automatically equal good. I'm hearing more and more calls for more green spaces in the centre which don't seem to have any basis other than grass looks nicer than concrete, without the thought I'd like to see for what these green spaces are for and what form they would take. I fear that if this notion gets a popular hold, we'd end up with a series of fairly useless and underused patches of grass in the city centre just for the bloody sake of it.

Of course it's just my opinion, but I believe that in land-scarce environments each land use has to earn it's right to be there - including and in no way precluding open spaces.
 

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Try getting an area of grass to sit on in Park Sq on a sunny lunchtime (never mind a bench!) - its rammed full.
Also don't ask how many moved into the city centre for green space, ask how many didn't because of a lack of it.
The original idea behind the great Victorian parks was to provide outdoor space for those living without their own gardens - the same may be becoming true for flat dwellers.
Also outdoor green space allows for kids to have fun and play, many people to sit outdoors in the sun (unlike Millennium/City Sq where you have to find a bench), and lots of plants to see.
 

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Thank you for your reply Fred. Excellently made. I didn't know about the impact on the war; it makes sence. Thanks for that!
Joey, my answer to you has reawakened some wartime memories. I remember after the very many air raid alarms we endured and the frightening noise of the anti-aircraft guns, more often than not we would hear that horrible drone (which I can still hear in my head after 65 or so years - I was 11 when the war started) of masses of German aircraft flying over Leeds on their way to bomb Manchester and Liverpool. We lived at Harehills during the war and we cowered in our cellars when the alarms went off. As I said, we were lucky in Leeds and suffered comparatively lightly (though there were some casualties I think in the south of Leeds). This was in spite of Lord Haw Haw boasting that the Germans were coming specially to Leeds to bomb Chapeltown Road - the Jews lived round there at the time.
 

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Try getting an area of grass to sit on in Park Sq on a sunny lunchtime (never mind a bench!) - its rammed full.
Also don't ask how many moved into the city centre for green space, ask how many didn't because of a lack of it.
The original idea behind the great Victorian parks was to provide outdoor space for those living without their own gardens - the same may be becoming true for flat dwellers.
Also outdoor green space allows for kids to have fun and play, many people to sit outdoors in the sun (unlike Millennium/City Sq where you have to find a bench), and lots of plants to see.
I don't have much problem finding a space in Park Square when I want one, but I'm not afraid of people. It's busy from 12-2 - the rest of the day? Mostly empty. I think it's a first class space, but it doesn't need to be expanded.

You're dead right on the intention of great Victorian Parks, but none of them were built in the city centre, were they? They were intentionally built a bus ride away, because the Victorians quite rightly realised that busy urban centres are not the right place for parks. When Park Square was originally laid out, it was well outside of the then town centre, and intentionally so, but the city then grew around it.

I understand what green spaces provide for people and children, and enjoy them myself. But in a city ringed by enormous municipal parks, is the urban centre the right place for children to be running around? Is it the best environment for plants and flowers to thrive in abundance? Is that what people come to the city centre for? Would they come, even if it were available? On a warm summer's Sunday when people are looking to relax in the sunshine, who is going to want to travel into an urban centre to sunbathe in the shade of a built-up environment?

I don't want to come across as some anti-grass nut. I'm just not seeing much inspired thought on the subject (and I don't mean on this forum, I just mean generally) beyond 'Leeds needs more grass'. The Civic Trust's complaint about Eastgate/Harewood lacking greenspace seemed to misunderstand the intent to repair the urban streetscape in that area. But how about public and grassed spaces on a rooftop there, for office workers and shoppers? Great idea! What do I think of the proposals to open up the disused viaduct? I love 'em! Randomly grassing over Victoria Gardens for the sake of some grass? Meh, no thanks!
 

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I think you seriously underestimate the longing for green space Sir CW. As a Leeds lad that goes to Leeds university, I come across a lot of people who are new to the area and time after time, they complain about the lack of green space in the city(especially in the summer).

Whats more, if this April is anything to go by, things are getting bloody warm in this country and so open green spaces are going to be under greater demanded.

Green spaces are more then just public spaces cos you can sit down on them, lay and sprawl out, have a BBQ. Basically, make hay while the sun shines. You cant do that on a pavement. As for if city centres are the right places for them, in New York, Sydney, London, Aukland, Kula Lumpour and many other great cities I have visited, these green spaces have been the nicest places where you actually get to talk to the real local people, where you get to make friends. It sets a contrast in the city and helps you appreciate the urban landscape as well. It is amazing what a bit of grass (the legal stuff that is) can do. Go to Woodhouse Moore on a sunny saturday and you will see what I mean.

I don't agree with wasting space either but I think green space can be deffinately justified just by what extra it brings to the city.

I think there is room for rooftop gardens but again, I think there needs to be inclusive greenspace. Whatever one says, offering greenspaces to consumers and workers is offering exclusive greenspace rather then somewhere that can be enjoyed easily by everyone.
 

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There are a few green spaces, Woodhouse Moor, and Park Square are well known. Queens Square and Hanover Square are nice little gems tucked away, St Johns church garden and the cemetry land behind the railway opposite Gateway are both nice but totally underused. The garden at Millineum Square adds a nice bit of green too. There are other tiny bits of green like at the Whitehall developments and Clarence Dock, in front of YTV etc.

Open spaces in central Leeds are at a premium and almost impossible to come by, cities that have plentiful green spaces (as mentioned previously) will probably have had them since early Victorian times.
 

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....You're dead right on the intention of great Victorian Parks, but none of them were built in the city centre, were they? They were intentionally built a bus ride away, because the Victorians quite rightly realised that busy urban centres are not the right place for parks. When Park Square was originally laid out, it was well outside of the then town centre, and intentionally so, but the city then grew around it.

I understand what green spaces provide for people and children, and enjoy them myself. But in a city ringed by enormous municipal parks, is the urban centre the right place for children to be running around? Is it the best environment for plants and flowers to thrive in abundance? Is that what people come to the city centre for? Would they come, even if it were available?
Quite agree!!

I think there's a lot of confused thinking going on here about the nature of city centres, and especially in Leeds. Firstly, there are quite a few green spaces in the city centre which are underrused - think the memorial gardens next to St John's Church, the grounds around Leeds Parish Church, and the garden opposite the Parish Church. As for the greening of spaces like the Millennium Square, what's all that about? The whole rationale behind the Millennium Square (and it was the subject of a public exhibition and consultation) was that it was to be the kind of public assembly space that would accommodate thousands of people for many different event in a relatively confined space. In other words, grass won't do!!

There's also been a lot of self-congratulatory guff about the compact city centre that we currently have. So, if it's so important to have more green space in that compact space, what areas do people think we should demolish to accommodate this city centre greenery?
 

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Whilst we are the subject of the 'Leeds of old' please can I ask where the old maternity hospital was? I was born there in 1975 and it's never occurred to me until now to actally find out where that was.
Was it called "Westfields" or "Westfield" ? On my birth certificate it says I was born in Westfields, Leeds 1967. I've heard that this is nearby to the LGI, Fred should know.
 

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Well Joey, I would agree with you about the open spaces in other city centres and the maps and the fountains. The lack of green spaces in Leeds city centre is a historic thing and in my opinion is in part due to the fact that I think, uniquely of the large cities, Leeds was spared large scale bombing destruction during the war. In fact in March 1941, in our worst air raid, the only city centre buildings to be hit were the Town Hall, (which caused very little damage) and the Museum then on Park Row (that had to be closed).
Don't forget that Leeds station was bombed twice that night.. apparently from old BR library records I was reading at Aire Street offices in 1990, the plane "a large bomber" circled low overhead twice from the east end to the west... the west end of the station, and parcels collection depot, sustained severe damage !.. It was then that the plane headed toward the town hall log ended, but apparently the bomb missed and failed to detonate.
Also don't forget we were bombed at the West End of the station by the IRA in the early 90s !

Bomb damage to Leeds City Museum 1941. Sure I read somewhere that one of the museum prized mummies was damage in the raid.


1st September 1940 View shows damage to the Marsh Lane Goods Station after suffering a direct bomb hit during World War II air raids. Leeds suffered 9 bombing raids during the war and although 77 people died and 197 buildings were destroyed, compared to cities such as Coventry and London, Leeds escaped the worst of the damage.

 

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Don't forget that Leeds station was bombed twice that night.. apparently from old BR library records I was reading at Aire Street offices in 1990, the plane "a large bomber" circled low overhead twice from the east end to the west... the west end of the station, and parcels collection depot, sustained severe damage !.. It was then that the plane headed toward the town hall log ended, but apparently the bomb missed and failed to detonate.
Also don't forget we were bombed at the West End of the station by the IRA in the early 90s !

Bomb damage to Leeds City Museum 1941.


1st September 1940 View shows damage to the Marsh Lane Goods Station after suffering a direct bomb hit during World War II air raids. Leeds suffered 9 bombing raids during the war and although 77 people died and 197 buildings were destroyed, compared to cities such as Coventry and London, Leeds escaped the worst of the damage.
Well mark*ie, I lived through it, as I described, but the attack on the station didn't register at all on my memory. Probably because that may have been censored from press mention at the time for security reasons? Also because that was earlier in 1940 and the only really bad raid we experienced (compared to the other cities and ports) happened in March 1941. However what you report in no way affects my argument about the very small amount of damage to property in Leeds city centre and the repercussions that it was to have to this day.
 

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Well mark*ie, I lived through it, as I described, but the attack on the station didn't register at all on my memory. Probably because that may have been censored from press mention at the time for security reasons? Also because that was earlier in 1940 and the only really bad raid we experienced (compared to the other cities and ports) happened in March 1941. However what you report in no way affects my argument about the very small amount of damage to property in Leeds city centre and the repercussions that it was to have to this day.
I agree Fred, I suppose this was a good thing because the Town Hall is one of my favourite buildings in Leeds.. along with a many other classic and Victorian architecture, we should thank ourselves lucky :)
 

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I agree Fred, I suppose this was a good thing because the Town Hall is one of my favourite buildings in Leeds.. along with a many other classic and Victorian architecture, we should thank ourselves lucky :)
Never mind the buildings - Leeds only suffered 77 deaths compared to the thousands in London and other places. (In the London Blitz alone more than 20,000 people were killed and 1.4 million made homeless !) For that I and my Leeds contemporaries were truly thankful !
 

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Quite agree!!

I think there's a lot of confused thinking going on here about the nature of city centres, and especially in Leeds. Firstly, there are quite a few green spaces in the city centre which are underrused - think the memorial gardens next to St John's Church, the grounds around Leeds Parish Church, and the garden opposite the Parish Church. As for the greening of spaces like the Millennium Square, what's all that about? The whole rationale behind the Millennium Square (and it was the subject of a public exhibition and consultation) was that it was to be the kind of public assembly space that would accommodate thousands of people for many different event in a relatively confined space. In other words, grass won't do!!

There's also been a lot of self-congratulatory guff about the compact city centre that we currently have. So, if it's so important to have more green space in that compact space, what areas do people think we should demolish to accommodate this city centre greenery?
I think this raises good point of underused greenspace which in turn again raises the point of accessebility. People won't use it unless they know it is there and for them to use. The memorial gardens seem like a bowling green and is surrounded by gates which makes people not too sure about if they should be using them or not. As for the other Greens, well I wouldn't suggest people go there unless they know the area or have a good map.

I am not suggesting demolishing any buildings or anything, just that any redevelopement ignores any need for any substantial green spaces. "pocket parks" aren't worth much really. To create a city with charactor (or at least to put that charactor across to newcomers), there needs to be large open spaces in which the members of that community can interact. Of course it is new comers that we want to attract if we want a bigger, better and more important city. Is that what we want?

I am not even saying this should happen. Just that this would be an ideal situation. Also, if Leeds is to ever think of itself as a key European city, I would have thought it would be on the checklist (along with confrence centre, arena and a decent football team)
 

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Again, I agree with Joey. Spot on with the "open spaces so that people interact remark," even if they don't interact in the end. The idea that I, or anyone else who wants more open space in a city centre, are confused and misguided in our rationales is patronising. For starters, an open space does not necessarily meen a green space (although often plazas, squares, etc will contain at least a few trees - not many of those in Leeds either). In my humble, confused and uniformed opinion, squares, parks, plazas, etc make our cities more liveable, more frendly. They provide a place to just sit and people watch, to lounge about on a nice day, to sit down and have our lunch, to have an ice-cream, to wander about aimlessly as we wonder were to go next, to have a rest.

There are many great sqaures around the world that are neither particularly large nor particularly green, yet fulfil all these functions and are often high on sight-seeing lists for their respective cities. Trafalgar Square - London, Plaza Duomo - Milan, Old Town Square -Prague, Place Pompidou - Paris, etc,etc. Granted Leeds is non of these cities- either as a tourist destination or as importance. They are expensive, urban, modern and have squares.

We all wand to be able to wear a badge that we have the tallest buildings, flashest shops, blah blah blah. There is more to living in a city than that, and frankly the whole "designer wearing, latte drinking, ciabatta eating" concecpt of "city life," is amazingly contrived and certainly tiresome.

"is the urban centre the right place for children to be running around? Is it the best environment for plants and flowers to thrive in abundance?" Yes SirCWilson, they may accidently step on a lawyers Prada shoes as he goes to buy some sushi, but children are as entitled to enjoy their city as anyone else.

Have a look at some of the squares in this website, and tell me that there is anywhere in Leeds City Centre, that currently fulfils the role of any of them

http://www.pps.org/squares

http://www.pps.org/info/newsletter/december2005/international_squares
 
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