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Plans to Bring Holt Park Back to Life…

April 10th, 2013 · 4 Comments · Community News

Map of Holt Park, Leeds, LS!^
by Heidi Fox
Later this year, Holt Park will see the arrival of a new £27m state-of-the-art wellbeing centre, which is part of a larger development plan to try and bring positive change to the area. Heidi Fox talks to community leaders to find out the impact the centre will have on the area and the community within it.

Holt Park has seen better days. In the district centre, there were a number of shops by the Asda Adel Supermarket which have recently closed down, with a popular fish and chip shop on the corner going under just a couple of months ago. What remains are charity shops, a café and more than a few disgruntled faces. However, the wellbeing centre – which is the first of its kind – sets to brighten up the area of Holt Park once again.

Elsa Rhodes, Coordinator for Offices in Holt Park (OPAL) said: “I hope the reputation of Holt Park will hugely improve as it looks pretty awful at the moment and needs something new to modernise it – I hope this project will be the catalyst to renovate libraries and other public services as the area has an awful lot of potential. We’re really excited that new plans are happening and we hope to see a difference in the area”.

Developments

The new Holt Park Active Wellbeing Centre will greatly improve upon existing facilities – there will be a 70 station bodyline gym, a 25m pool, hydrotherapy and learning pools, a dance studio and a sports hall to help encourage people to have an active lifestyle. The new hub is also catering for small businesses by providing meeting areas for their usage and a café and garden for those who just want to sit back and relax with friends.

Holt Park has a population of around 1,500 people, with 12% being over 65. Unfortunately, the estate has fallen within the lowest 10 deprivation index in Leeds for adult services, but there are hopes that the new wellbeing centre can improve upon this. A main focal point for the wellbeing centre is to ensure that it caters for all ages and abilities, especially regarding the elderly and disabled.

The centre will improve upon facilities for those with physical or learning difficulties and will bring in a range of activities for the older generation to attend and enjoy amongst other people their age. Construction plans will ensure that the centre is comfortable and accessible by building lifts and providing a car park with disabled parking, so that all can make use of the centre’s facilities.

Issues

Even though these plans are highly welcomed, Alan Mann of Holt Park Tenants and Residents Association is concerned about how younger people in the area will feel about the plans.

He said: “Holt Park could be seen as an older person’s village as Adult Social Care is the top management for the centre. There is a concept to build some respite units close by and to use the centre for rehabilitation for those who are ill. However, younger people can benefit from other services, such as the bodyline gym to keep fit and healthy and there may be job opportunities for students that the centre can offer.”

Councillor for Adel and Wharfdale, Barry Anderson, expresses similar concerns as the youth centre at the rear of the hub has been removed. It does not look likely that a new area will be provided specifically for teenagers and young people, which is disconcerting as 17% of the Holt Park population are under 16.

He said: “I have tried to argue that we need to bring in something for the youth. We will still be able to provide a space for young people in the multi-activity rooms, but the layout and design will be targeted at older people and may not appeal to the younger generation.  We need a space for young people to call their own and relax.”

Mum of 4, Emma Bland, expresses her concerns regarding the new centre having little facilities specifically for the youth.

“It’s not very good that there is not going to be a new youth centre in the hub. There’s not enough facilities for the children around here as it is, so I think it really could do with having one. I think ultimately that there’s going to be a lot more children getting in to trouble, as they have got no where to go.” She said.

Enhancing Holt Park

The plans are being overseen by Leeds City Council, with funding from the Department of Health through the Private Finance Initiative. The Council has involved the local community with the plans and launched a competition last month asking Leeds citizens to get creative and help choose a name for the centre.  The winner, Eleanor Gallon, not only contributed to the history of the new centre by entering, but also won a six-month Bodyline fitness membership for when the newly named ‘Holt Park Active Wellbeing Centre’ opens.

Improvements to the condition of the area have already commenced, with renovations to the main estate taking place under the Holt Park Master Plan last year. MP Greg Mulholland, community leaders and members of the public –  including the children of Cookridge Primary School – all came together to lay down new paving, plant beautiful flowers and plants, and erect new seating so that the public would have an attractive location to enjoy together. Future advancements under this Master Plan include redeveloping housing and building additional shops in the area.

There are also proposals for new transport plans, with the possible introduction of a trolley bus that will travel from Holt Park to Leeds. The bus will have over 2,300 park and ride spaces, will help boost the economy by £160m and will create 4,000 permanent new jobs for local residents.

The centre is just a starting point to bring Holt Park back to life. If plans go swimmingly, it could benefit the locals by improving the overall wellbeing of the area and the community that lies within it.

Councillor Anderson said: “The council hopes that the hub will act as a catalyst for other investments and that nice things are built around this new ‘heart’ that we are trying to create.”

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