Royal Park School in Leeds: Squatters to Leaseholders

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Jan 5 18:54:14 GMT 2011

Royal Park School: Squatters to Leaseholders
Published: January 05, 2011 16:44 by nab | Share

On Wednesday 5th of Jan the council had a meeting 
to decide the fate of Royal Park School.  With 
three bidders aiming to take control of the 
building the council agreed to lease School to 
the community group Royal Park Community 
Consortium (RPCC).  This is marks the end of a 6 
year community campaign where at one point the 
community squatted the building in 2009.  The 
group started as 7 people writing letters but 
since the building was squatted RPCC now has over 
300 members and 10 people on the management 
committee,  RPCC came on "light years" since 
squatting the building and admit that it was this 
event that made the lease possible.

See inital article when the building was 
squatted, the eviction, a video about the campaign.
Click on any picture for a Slideshow view

Royal Park Primary School has been a feature of 
Leeds since the late 19th century.  It is not old 
enough to be a listed building and protected from 
Demolition.  The School was closed down in 2004 
with the local community frustrated in their 
efforts to put the building to better 
use.   Leeds City Council’s Asset Management took 
control of the building.  The council decided to 
hand the building to Rushbond PLC who were to 
convert the building into flats for the 
elderly.  Rushbond PLC pull out 18 months later.

In July 2009 the lead from the roof was removed 
by thieves and nothing was done.  With water 
damage slowly destroying the building the 
community acted and squatted Royal Park 
School.  They gained much support from ex 
teachers and pupils alike.  During the time the 
building was squatted the group:

Made safe broken windows;
Cleared debris from floors;
Removed flammable liquids;
Made the gas supply safe;
Tidied the school yard and made flower tubs ready for planting;
Completed some roof repairs.

“There’s nothing in the area to bind the 
community together any more,” says Ted Winter, a 
former pupil. He and 20 others squatted in the 
building in November to highlight its plight and 
clean it up, before being removed by the police. 
“If not used as a school, it could be retained 
for the community. It’s derelict and has been 
vandalised but it’s a perfectly good building. It 
could be restored and brought to life.”

The council took the squatters to court and in a 
packed courtroom the judge evicted the 
squatters.  After being evicted the court awarded 
£3 000 legal costs to the council.  Even with 
this set back many people became involved and 
energised.  The group grow from less than ten 
people writing letters and being ignored to 300 
members collectively submitting a professional 
and successful bid after many hours of work.  The 
council agreed that RPCC had come on "light years".

The Royal Park Consortium now has untill August 
to raise £750 000 for phase 0 and 1 to be 
completed which would mean the building is safe 
for people to use, phase 0,  and rooms are able 
to be rented out, phase 1.  The later phases require over one million pounds.

During the council meeting today the matter of 
the £3 000 came up with the chair of the council 
meeting suggesting that the group paid the costs 
as they were clearly, "very resourceful 
individuals", whereas the Green councillor 
suggested that the fees could be paid out of the 
work that the group did whilst they occupied the building.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list