Royal Park School in Leeds: Squatters to Leaseholders
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
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 Councils 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.
Theres 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. Its derelict and has been
vandalised but its 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