Welcome to Aireborough the most ‘average’ area in the country according to the 2001 census. A BBC news article described it thus, “Aireborough – a district in the north-west suburbs of Leeds, comprising the leafy villages of Yeadon and Guiseley – is the phrase ‘could be better, could be worse’ given physical form.”
The same article went on, “Walking the streets of Aireborough, one finds it impossible to imagine that anyone from another town in England or Wales would feel even the slightest culture shock coming here. It has the shops and amenities common to any bustling High Street, but green hills can be glimpsed rising up behind the buildings. In Aireborough’s residential streets, the cars are presentable, but not too flash – exactly like the York sandstone houses they drive past. You don’t feel as if you are about to be jumped by a gang of toughs, just as you don’t fear being asked to move along for lowering the tone of the neighbourhood.” (As a matter of note to the BBC many houses are built out of Guiseley sandstone, as indeed are the foundations of the Houses of Parliament.)
Will the 2011 census, reveal a similar story to 2001, or, is Aireborough a declining area of Leeds, trapped in the City’s gravity and in danger of becoming a sprawling urban dormitory on the back of unsustainable development, as many residents fear? There have certainly been many changes in the last ten years, with the closure of many mills and factories, the building of 600 new homes (with a similar number in the pipeline), a subsequent increase in traffic congestion, overcrowded schools, and limited places at doctors and dentists for newcomers, and now threats to the surrounding green belt that is valued so much as our ‘step out’ green recreation ground, and as part of the character of the area.
However, the issues apart, people still do love living here. Aireborough is safe, Aireborough is home. Which is why Aireborough should now take up the powers given to local communities in the 2011 Localism Act, and start determining its own future with a neighbourhood plan. This neighbourhood plan has to be in general conformity with the Leeds Local Development Framework (which is not due to be ratified until the end of 2013), but it does give local people the opportunity to think about Aireborough afresh, and how they want the area to develop.
We do not have a parish council to do this in Guiseley, Yeadon, Hawksworth or High Royds. Therefore, we need a Neighbourhood Forum to carry out the task of looking at all areas individually, and then coming together to address the issues and build on the area’s assets.
Where do we provide more schools places?
How do we create more community facilities to generate community spirit, especially for the young?
How do we solve traffic congestion?
How do we build an Olympic Legacy through our sports facilities?
How do we conserve and build our green infrastructue, cycleways and byways?
How do we develop our local economy and generate more employment and businesses?
How do we ensure buildings are in keeping with the local character and build civic pride again?
These are things people have already told us they want to look at. Welcome to Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum, where together we might solve these issues and make it happen.