About Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum


This page gives detailed account of Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum (KNF). Please scroll through the document, or click the links below to jump to individual sections.

Agendas, Reports and Minutes for all our meetings are published on the downloads section below.

What is a Neighbourhood Forum?

In 2011 Parliament passed the Localism Act, which gave local communities a greater say on Town Planning decisions. Providing we follow some basic rules, we can write our own planning policies for the Kirkstall area. These could ensure, for example, that we only permit those kinds of development that Kirkstall residents want to see.

Neighbourhood Forums start from a group of like-minded individuals who apply for recognition by their local council. Normally this is first come, first served. The Council will advertise the application, and once it is satisfied that it comes from a genuine community organisation, it will designate the entire group to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.

Now follows a very brief decription of the plan-making process. There is a much longer and more detailed version below.

Our first task is to engage with the public to make sure that everybody knows what is happening. The Forum must organise Public Meetings, promote debate and encourage a wide range of people to express their views. We must gradually seek a consensus about our local priorities, before we put these together in our Neighbourhood Plan. We don't have complete freedom, because our plan must always respect existing local and national planning policies, but most Neighbourhood Forums live fairly easily with this.

This isn't just about buildings. Neighbourhood Forums can can decide where parks and green space should be located, and how much there should be. This may require additional land and money, but developers often contribute as part of their planning consent. Forums can promote Public Health measures, for example to reduce traffic noise and vehicle pollution. They could promote an active "outdoor" lifestyle, and make sure that all our children have safe and convenient places to play.

Our Draft Plan is advertised to the public and reviewed by planning experts. There is a period for people to make objections if they wish. Having dealt with objections as far as possible, the entire plan is put to a postal vote open to all the residents in Kirkstall Ward. If our plan is approved by this Referendum, then it acquires legal force.

Neighbourhood Board

KNF operates under a Constitution provided by Leeds City Council, although we can amend this if we wish. All our main policy decsions are taken at open Public Meetings, but these need some preparation to get the papers ready and to book the room! Our Constitution requires the Forum to elect a Board at every Annual Meeting to do the routine work and manage our internal business from one public meeting to the next. The Board elects its own Chair, Treasurer and Secretary and the Public Meeting has no say in this. Download our original Constitution here.

SWOT survey

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a traditional way to start a discussion about what to do next. It is also a good way for KNF to prove that it really has engaged with most of the 21,000 residents across the whole of Kirkstall Ward, and listened carefully to what they have to say.

The KNF Board are inviting all Kirkstall residents to complete a survey which asks (1) what they like about Kirkstall; (2) what they don't like about Kirkstall; (3) what they want to see in the future; and (4) what they want to avoid. The survey is anonymous, but we do ask for your postcode, so that we check that our coverage has been reasonably even across different parts of the ward.

The results will be analysed by content and by area, because some issues might be very important for a tiny part of the ward. This isn't a vote, or a popularity contest, but issues that are often mentioned clearly merit some discussion when preparing our Neighbourhood Plan.

The Board are offering this survey on paper, door-to-door, as part of our publicity for the Neighbourhood Plan. It is also available on-line as part of this website. Please click the "Survey" button at the top of each page, or follow this link.

Climate Change

In March 2019 Leeds City Council agreed a Climate Emergency resolution, which commmitted Leeds to acheive carbon-neutrality by 2030. This will be a very difficult target to achieve, but it is essential that we try. Details remain to be settled, but it seems likely that all Neighbourhood Forums will play a key role discussing and agreeing our local response. Watch this space!

Public Health

Neighbourhood Plans can promote Public Health, for example by reducing vehicle pollution, preventing traffic accidents, and providing public open space. Research has increasingly shown the importance of our local environment in promoting both physical and mental health. We can also provide emergency Food Banks and holiday meals for children. Youth facilities may offer Public Health benefits - this is all for Kirkstall people to decide.

Active Travel

Nowadays most GPs urge their patients to take more exercise. Scientific research has shown that for most people this is the best recipe for a long and happy life. But such advice provides little comfort if there is nowhere nice to go. Local plans can ensure that all residents have access to good quality footpaths and foot bridges that take them where they want to wander. We can also ensure that some paths are designed for runners and cyclists, and that canoeists have suitable routes along the river and canal. Active Travel means reaching your destination under your own steam. We are likely to see much more of this in the years ahead.

Guided Walks in the Kirkstall Valley

Since 2017 we have organised a series of guided walks through the Kirkstall Valley, visiting places that are only just around the corner, but many people have never seen. On occasion we borrowed the keys to St Ann's Mills, so that visitors could see the inside of the 1834 pre-Victorian mill building, and also visit the weir and fish pass, the eighteenth century fulling mill, the Newcomen Atmospheric Engine, white water canoe course and the lovely Kirkstall riverside near the tip of the river island on the way to Burley Mills. We saw Kingfishers and Herons on several of these trips.

Our last walk around the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve was Sunday 29 July 2018, starting at 2pm from the single track road bridge on Redcote Lane, LS4 2AL. This is close to the A65 Kirkstall Road, near the ASDA supermarket and the Evanston Avenue recycling site. More walks will follow if there is demand. Our previous outings started from Morrisons store entrance near Bridge Road. These are easy walks for about 2 hours, with breaks. Children and pets are welcome, but to protect wildlife please keep dogs on a lead.

Footpath registration

Leeds is a two-speed city so far as public footpaths are concerned. The map below shows the progress with footpath registration as Public Rights of Way in each Leeds City Council ward. Scroll down or click here to see how you can do your bit.

We have plotted the total length of registered footpath in each ward on a rainbow scale. Areas with very poor registration are bright red. Improving results run through orange, yellow, green to very good registration, which is bright blue. This information has come from Leeds City Council footpath officers. Harewood Ward is anomalous: this single ward with only 3% of the Leeds population contains 18% of all the registered footpaths in Leeds. The next highest is Kippax with 8% but most of the wards in central Leeds are scraping the barrel with a fraction of 1% of the Leeds total. We have ranked the wards in numerical order: Armley (1) is worst-off, with less than 1 km of registered footpath, compared with Harewood (33) best-off with 153 km. Harewood is so far ahead of the pack that it doesnít sit easily on our rainbow scale, so we have coloured it purple to make it stand out.













Armley (most deprived)




City & Hunslet




Morley South



Killingbeck & Seacroft








Ardsley & Robin Hood



Hyde Park & Woodhouse




Middleton Park







Burmontofts & Richmond Hill




Bramley & Stanningley




Morley North



Gipton & Harehills




Cross Gates & Whinmoor




Guiseley & Rawdon



Beeston & Holbeck




Temple Newsam




Otley & Yeadon











Adel & Wharfedale






















Garforth & Swillington







Farnley & Wortley




Kippax & Methley



Chapel Allerton




Calverley & Farsley




Harewood (least deprived)


This isnít because the inner city has no off-road footpaths: poor registration is a major cause. Armley (for example) has over 21 km of claimed public rights of way that have never been registered. There are 374km of claimed, but unregistered footpaths, city wide. On 1 January 2026 all these unregistered paths will lapse. Landowners will be able to shut the gates, fence them off, or build on them, and people may no longer be allowed to walk where they walked before.

But this isnít all about poor registration. We have been doing a detailed survey of local footpaths in Kirkstall Ward for the Neighbourhood Plan. It turns out that there are well-used footpaths that havenít even been claimed, let alone registered, and many more places where the Council could create delightful new footpaths which do not presently exist. We are sure that this will also be true of other wards.

Off-road public footpaths are important because they provide opportunities for gentle exercise in a traffic-free environment. This brings major cardiovascular and mental health benefits. It is particularly important in view of current evidence about poor air quality, road traffic pollution, nitrogen oxides and the like. All age groups need more exercise, and they need somewhere nice to do it. Walking is not expensive, but public footpaths should also be convenient, attractive and near at hand.

When public footpaths were first registered in the years after the second world war, for some inexplicable reason the whole of the old Leeds County Borough was omitted from these surveys. It is now called ďthe excluded areaĒ. Outlying towns like Horsforth, Otley, Pudsey and Wetherby were all surveyed, but inner Leeds has never been done.

This has resulted in a massive backlog affecting the inner city areas. Now the clock is ticking: unless we get these paths registered by 1 January 2026 they will all lapse. Landowners will be able to gate them off, build on them, exclude the public, and there will be nothing that we can do afterwards to reverse the switch. At the present miserable rates of progress this job will not be finished on time. Not even nearly finished. Substantial effort is needed, and the time to do it is now.

There is overwhelming evidence that regular moderate exercise is the key to good health. For the average person, exercise is far more cost-effective than hospitals, surgery or drugs. This is hardly rocket science and it is hardly new. The ancient Greeks knew about it, 2,500 years ago. One of the best gifts that we could give Leeds residents is a city-wide network of parks and public footpaths, so that everybody has an opportunity for enjoyable physical recreation at an affordable cost.

The graph below plots life expectancy against footpath provision in each of 33 Leeds City Council wards. The correlation here is probably fortuitous - both variables are tracking disposable income - but if we could monitor individual physical activty there would be a strong correlation with lifespan and health.


New footpath registration

Most existing footpaths in Kirkstall haven't been properly registered, and some haven't even been claimed. We are trying to speed up registration, but we need your help. One method is to show that footpaths have been freely used for the last 20 years. There is an interactive map on the Council website which shows the current position. If you have ever walked on unregistered or unclaimed footpaths, even if it was a long time ago, please send your evidence to Leeds Footpath Officers, who can use it as part of the registration process. One person's evidence will not be sufficient on its own, but if 20 people provide written evidence, collectively covering 20 years use, then registration is very likely. Here is the way to do it:

Please click here to download these instructions as a PDF. Save them and print them out, because you will need to refer to them after they have vanished from your screen.

First Visit the Public Rights of Way pages on the Leeds City Council website. There is a lot to read here, and many other links for visitors to follow. Click the link near the middle of the screen marked "Definitive map and statement".

Second Once you are on the Definitive map page, open the Council's interactive footpath map by clicking the link to the Leeds public right of way map near the top of the page. (Alternatively, you can click the link in this paragraph which should take you to the same place.) Click the checkbox on the legal agreement to accept the Council's terms and conditions, then click "OK". This right of way map is very similar to Google maps. You can drag it across the screen with a mouse, shrink and zoom to view your area of interest. Black routes are definitive, and green routes are claims.

Third Locate the Microsoft Snipping Tool or its equivalent in other operating systems, such as Mac or Android. The Council insists that every witness statement includes a map, so we can all be certain that we are discussing the same stretch of path. We need an easy way to paste extracts from the footpath map into our statements. Fortunately, Microsoft has already provided the ideal tool as part of Windows, and it is free. We must discover where they have hidden it, because it isn't always stored in the same place.

On a reasonably modern Windows laptop or desktop, just type "Snipping Tool" into the Search box near the start button. The computer will find it and pop an icon on the taskbar. You can pin it there, or move it to your desktop, or put it where convenient. You can download a very similar App for mobile phones and Macs. On older computers the program is still there, but it takes more finding. Look in "Accessories" or hunt in C:\Windows\System32 for a program file called SnippingTool.exe

Snipping tool allows users to draw rectangles or freehand curves anywhere on their computer screen, copy whatever is enclosed by their drawing, then save it as an image file or paste it directly into a document. In our case we can copy extracts from the Council's footpath map and pop them into our witness statements. This is a lot easier than drawing your own map.

Fourth Send an email to the LCC Public Rights of Way Manager, Bob.Buckenham@leeds.gov.uk saying where you walked and when you did it. You can also phone the team on 0113 395 7400. You must confirm that there was no significant barrier to human access, you didn't need to ask permission, and nobody tried to stop you. Paste in the relevant map extract and ask for this area of land to be added to the definitive map. Encourage others to do the same.

If your route is completely missing from the Council website, then you must tell the footpath officers that this is a new claim. You will need to mark it on your map snippet, using another free Windows program, such as Microsoft Paint. There are many such unclaimed routes, including one obvious path through the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, along the south bank of the river. It has been in existence to our knowledge since 1993, when the Nature Reserve was established. Thousands of people have used it. It has had well over 20 years use, so time is up. Why not be the first person to register it as a new public footpath?

Previous meetings

Public meeting on 26 July 2017

The Forum is politically neutral and no public meetings were held during the recent general election campaign. Our most recent meeting took place on Wednesday 26 July in the New Burley Club. Members approved draft policies on Public Footpaths and the Kirkstall Valley Park, and also discussed air pollution, car repairs, match day parking, Tesco site, Merry Monk redevelopment and residents' parking schemes.

Public meeting on 7 February 2017

This meeting took place in the New Burley Club. Members heard presentations on the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, and discussed the footpath network and railway policies.

Download the January Newsletter.

Heat pumps

The Forum is evaluating heat pump technology as a possible way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, combat fuel poverty and generate an income for local projects. Click here for detailed information about this topic.

Annual Meeting on Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Annual Meeting of Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum took place at 7:30pm on Tuesday 6 December in Paxton Hall, 186 Kirkstall Lane, LS5 2AB. The meeting started with informal poster displays about our work so far, so that small groups could focus on popular issues.

Later in the evening we elected a new Neighbourhood Board to manage our affairs for the next twelve months. The Board doesn't decide our policy, but arranges a series of public meetings where all major decisions are taken in an open democratic manner.

Public Meeting on 27 September 2016

Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum met for the fourth time at 7:30pm on Tuesday 27 September in Paxton Hall. This meeting started with an informal workshop so we could discuss issues in smaller groups. Topics considered included footpaths, Kirkstall riverside, parking, poverty and traffic problems. Later the meeting received the Secretary's report from the Board, agreed a timetable for producing a plan, and decided the overall direction of Forum policy in future months.


  1. immediate engagement with residents throughout the plan area, often working in small groups and including a skills audit that maximises local input,

  2. production of a multi-topic intentions document in January 2017 with optional priority projects,

  3. production of a draft plan in spring 2017 with consultation over the summer

  4. publication of a pre-submission neighbourhood plan in January 2018

  5. postal ballot for a referendum in Spring 2018.

Third Public Meeting on 8 June 2016

Much of the evening was spent discussing five big policy issues that were open for debate.

  1. Affordable housing: At least 100 units of affordable housing are required on the failed Tesco supermarket site within the Kirkstall District Centre, in addition to any retail or commercial development which might or might not be agreed.

  2. Design Quality: Planning applications in Kirkstall will be judged by the same standards that apply in the most privileged areas of Leeds.

  3. Flood Relief Scheme: This Forum will engage fully with the emerging flood relief scheme and focus on residentsí well-being and quality of life. Every opportunity will be taken to improve youth and sports provision, and public access to recreational land.

  4. Sustainable Development: Major planning applications must achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions, with less stringent requirements for householder applications.

  5. Traffic and Congestion: A detailed professional study of traffic congestion is urgently required on both sides of the valley for the area within 1km of Bridge Road.

The meeting accepted these over-arching policies without significant dissent, but their detailed implementation will be decided over the next few months.

Second Public Meeting on 5 April 2016

This meeting received a report from the Board, and elected additional board members. It also received a Survey Form about members preferences and a discussion paper on future policies.

The Survey Form is being used to group members into working parties who share similar interests, so that people can make a start on their favourite topics. It is not necessary to fill-in every line, only the ones that appeal to you. Participation is entirely voluntary and there is no need to take part if you donít want to.

As explained below for the membership form, some browsers allow you to immediately complete PDF forms on screen, but others expect you to save the file to disk and send them later using Acrobat reader. Mobile devices often cause problems and we are working on this. In case of difficulty, an ordinary old-fshioned email message to info@kirkstallforum.org will always do the trick.

If you use Internet Explorer 11, Opera or Firefox/Mozilla then you can complete the form immediately on screen, or save it for later if you prefer. If you use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge you should first save the file and open it with Acrobat Reader. Either way, click the "Submit" button to send us your views.

Alternatively, save the completed the form and attach it to an email message to info@kirkstallforum.org in the usual way.

You donít have to agree with our discussion paper. In fact we would welcome some healthy disagreement. Our objective is to push the boat out a little and stimulate debate.

Inaugural Public Meeting on 5 January 2016

The new Forum met for the first time in Paxton Hall. This meeting approved 113 initial members and elected a Board of 14 to manage day-to-day business between Public Meetings. This Board subsequently elected its own officers and now meets regularly on the 4th Wednesday each month. The Chair is John Liversedge, Secretary John Illingworth and Treasurer Tom Brannigan. At least 4 Public Meetings of the full Forum must be held each year. These Public Meetings are open to all members and will determine Forum policy.

The Inaugural Meeting received two documents that will assist future decisions: (1) The Vision for Kirkstall was prepared by local residents in 2010, and many of its policies are still relevant today. The Vision doesn't bind the Forum, which could decide quite differently, but it is a useful checklist of things that need to be done. (2) The Site Allocations Map is a Leeds City Council document which shows the Council's own plan making for the Kirkstall area. This document does bind the Forum, but it is a work in progress, where the Forum can suggest changes that the Council may accept. Both documents are available from the downloads section below.

How to join Kirkstall Forum

New members are always welcome and people can register any time. Our Constitution says that new members are formally accepted by the full Forum at the start of each public meeting. To save time and avoid mistakes please sign up in advance. Just send an ordinary email message to info@kirkstallforum.org which includes your name, Kirkstall street address and (optional) preferred phone number, so that we can start sending you details of future events. Members must live or work in Kirkstall, so we need a Kirkstall postal address (either home or work) to demonstrate that local connection.

Sometimes people have excellent reasons to keep their address confidential. If this applies to you, please let us know and we will respect your need for confidentiality.


Examples of successful Neighbourhood Plans

Some of these websites show helpful details of the process for making and approving the plan. Sometimes you must scroll down to find the finished product.


The application from the Interim Neighbourhood Forum was to designate an area covering the whole of Kirkstall Ward (the area shaded light green on the detailed map below). This is a large unit, but alternative arrangements are less satisfactory. If the plan boundary falls short of the ward boundary, this leaves "orphan areas" whose interests may be overlooked. Such orphans may also be denied access to significant funds. There is a partial overlap with the previously designated area for the Headingley Neighbourhood Forum around Foxcroft Mount, Queenswood Road, Queenswood Gardens, Queenswood Rise and the southern end of Queenswood Drive. This area is coloured yellow on the map, and the issue is discussed in the LCC Report and Plan prepared on 26 October 2015 (see download list above). The Council decided not to include the disputed area in the Kirkstall Forum for the time being, but urged both Neighbourhood Forums to reach an agreement about future representation. This overlap causes significant problems for Kirkstall residents because the current Headingley boundary splits the operating area for the Queenswood Tenants' and Residents' Association (QTARA) in half. Negotiations are necessary to resolve this issue.

Some Kirkstall issues, such as peak time traffic congestion, affect the entire ward. Kirkstall District Centre and Kirkstall Forge are expected to be the main drivers for local economic development, and both sites affect considerable areas. Other matters have only local relevance, but residents may value support from a wider area.

Detailed plan-making process

Full details of the Neighbourhood Planning Process can be found on the Leeds City Council website at https://www.leeds.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/neighbourhood-planning Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the Localism Act 2011. It allows Town and Parish Councils to prepare their own local plans which influence development in their local area. Neighbourhood Forums perform a similar function in non-parished areas such as Kirkstall. Neighbourhood plans cannot propose less development than the local plan (or core strategy), but they can propose more homes or businesses, or alternative sites, or higher design standards.

The Localism Act requires only one Neighbourhood Forum in each area. Leeds City Council must consult with the community before agreeing to its formation and the area boundary. The board or steering group must reflect the local community, including residents and businesses. The forum must have at least 21 members including at least one councillor. Neighbourhood Forums can obtain financial support directly from their local council, and also from the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning Programme, which is administered by a consortium led by Locality / RTPI Planning Aid on behalf of Government.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), the Council has a statutory duty to assist communities in the preparation of neighbourhood development orders and to take orders through a process of examination and referendum. The Localism Act 2011 (Part 6 chapter 3) sets out the LPA responsibilities as:

In addition, legislation sets out who the relevant councils are with responsibility for arranging the referendum/s. The overall process can be summarised in the following diagram:

It is importand that the entire process is conducted transparently, and that all local interest groups are able to take part. The Leeds City Council website has an extensive section devoted to Neighbourhood Plans. The process starts informally, but becomes more disciplined and professional as the key issues are identified. The work of the Neighbourhood Forum culminates in a six-week period of Statutory Consultation on the proposed Neighbourhood Plan, which is then submitted to Leeds City Council for further processing.

The Council subjects the draft plan to Independent Examination to ensure that the plan:

  1. has regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance
  2. has special regard to the desirability of preserving any heritage assets
  3. has special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area
  4. contributes to the achievement of sustainable development
  5. general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan
  6. does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations (e.g. Strategic Environmental Assessment5)
  7. prescribed conditions are met and prescribed matters have been complied (legal and regulatory).

It is likely that this process will identify some conflicts and that the draft plan will require some modifications. The final version is subject to a minimum of 28 days publicity, culminating in a "yes | no" postal referendum.

If the electors agree to the plan, then it has the full force of other planning documents in controlling local development.

Last updated 12 January 2020 at 10:46 Back to the top

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