Leeds City Council parking ban will drive business from the city

Today’s Yorkshire Evening Post has an article by Sophie Hazan about the most stupid planning decision I’ve every seen in my life. Leeds City Council has refused permission to all of the long stay car parks around Holbeck Urban Village. The car parks have been operating for years without permission, which calls into question the competence of the planning department in the first place – either it’s a problem so should have been stopped at the start, or it isn’t so should have been given permission and allowed to continue. You can’t have it both ways.

As the co-owner of a business that employs almost 15 people and is growing fast we know we’re going to need larger offices sometime in the new year. Holbeck Urban Village looked a really attractive location as we need an office that is good for both Leeds train station and those employees who have to drive because of lack of proper public transport. About 90% of our revenue is money coming from outside of the region into Leeds, and at least half of that is ‘export’ income from companies overseas. We’re not huge, but we are definitely the type of business that in the current economic climate Leeds needs to retain. The incentive for remaining in Leeds is now massively reduced as the loss of 2,500 parking space basically makes Holbeck Urban Village untenable as a possible office location for a business like ours.

I suppose the golden lining to this cloud is that we haven’t already committed to offices that would have turned out to be unsuitable.

I fully understand the policy to reduce congestion, but this short-sighted decision does so in the most damaging way possible. If Leeds had already benefitted from the Supertram, its new railway stations or even the half-hearted trolley bus scheme then this decision would make far more sense. But not only has the improved public transport not happened yet, it’s not even close to happening.

As an ex-councillor who has served on planning panels I’m not automatically going to accuse the elected members on the panel. Planning is one of the most frustrating committees you can serve on as a councillor, as you’re so restricted by legislation and guidance that your actual decision making ability is extremely restricted. Judging by the quotes from Liz Nash and Graham Latty it appears that this is one of those situations, where officers have advised that this is the decision the panel must take.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • Anonymous

    What do they council suggest happens to the drivers who currently use the carparks? Let them cram onto already overcrowded train? Park elsewhere, clogging up roads? Take buses that are hard to predict? Force businesses to move?

    Some of those carparks were established well before I first started working in the Holbeck area in 2000. Will this tip them out onto the council run metres?

    Finally, charging people out of the city misses the point. This will hit the poorer city workers and mean they’ll pay more money to get to work. Free parking in Leeds would not necessarily mean I’d drive.

    In France they balk at parking charges. Even in Paris you can find plenty of free spaces. I don’t understand why in the UK we shoo people away from areas by charging significant sums for parking

  • http://twitter.com/matthewcrumpton Matthew Crumpton

    The rail service is on its knees and would never be able to cope with increased numbers of passengers at rush hour. The Huddersfield line into Leeds station already has to turn people away from a full train in their dozens. Unless a Japanese style of approach is to be introduced were commuters are physically pushed into the trains by employed men with brooms… such a decision wouldn’t surprise me.