Dobbie Row


Dobbie Row was the local slang for a group of 19th century mill-workers' cottages along Kirkstall Road, that was properly known as "Stansfeld Row". These were built around 1825 by the Stansfeld family, who had previously constructed the nearby Burley Mills in 1799 for James Graham MP and Benjamin Gott. Over the years these terraced cottages gradually fell into decay, and at one stage they were used as pig-sties before they were demolished by the Council and turned into a municipal waste tip. Only about half the site was filled because there is a weak Victorian sewer running underneath, which could not bear the weight of the fill. This explains the unusual landform, with a deep valley parallel to the road. Eventually the site was capped and left alone for 40 years. The land has gradually regenerated and is now covered in trees and bushes, although the heaps of builders' rubble betray its former use.

Between 1983 and 1988 Dobbie Row was the site for the Kirkstall Community Programme, which was constructing a footpath along the Kirkstall Mill Goits from Kirkstall Abbey to Burley Mills. This scheme was never completed, because it was overtaken in 1988 by the infamous Leeds Development Corporation and the Leeds City Council "Mountleigh Plan". Before the Community Programme was abandoned, on 16 November 1987 the Council granted planning permission for a Nature Garden and Play Area at Dobbie Row (application number 87/26/401 from Leeds Leisure Services). Work had started on this scheme, thereby "implementing" the planning consent.

Since 1988 the Council has made various attempts to sell Dobbie Row for redevelopment, fudging over the issue of the Nature Garden and Play Area, which remain the established planning use. Leeds Development Corporation granted planning consent 91/24/491/99 on 20 February 1992 for student flats and fast food takeaway, but this scheme was never built, so their consent has no legal effect. The Council has also tried to sell this site for a used car lot, as though we didn't already have enough of these! Despite the Council's efforts to sell, the presence of the weak Victorian sewer and the mixed organic nature of the fill makes Dobbie Row almost worthless as development land.

A group of local residents constituted as 'dig2ride' would now like to convert the area nearest the A65 into BMX clay jumps, for local youngsters to enjoy. This would be a strictly pedal cycle scheme, and motor cycles would be banned. Users will design their own clay jumps, and dig the course themselves - hence the name. The BMX riders will need a lock-up tool store and several truck loads of clay. Dig2ride would also like to complete the unfinished Community Programme scheme: the remainder of the site towards the mill goit would be top-soiled and landscaped before re-planting with native trees and shrubs. This would create a peaceful wildlife haven near Kirkstall Road.

These plans show the new BMX jumps in relation to the A65 Quality Bus Scheme, which is also due to start on site in the next few months. Although Dobbie Row looks green on first sight, there is a fair amount of rubble and other nrubbish to clear. The area nearest the main road can be quite noisy, but the footpath along the goit is very peaceful, and is much enjoyed by local residents and their dogs.

On 29 October 2010 Leeds City Council submitted a planning application 10/04893/LA (which can be viewed on the Council's Public Access website) to move surplus topsoil from the A65 Quality Bus scheme onto the Dobbie Row site, in order to lay out the BMX trails and jumps. This is likely to destoy many of the existing self-seeded trees, but the site will be replanted with native species as part of the scheme.

See also: BMX pages detailing several alternative sites which might be developed in the future if the sport retains its popularity. Cllr Illingworth declares a personal interest in Dobby Row because he serves as Secretary for dig2ride, and also works an allotment on the adjacent land at Burley Mills.

Last updated 16 January 2011 at 01:09. Back to the top

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Promoted by John Illingworth, 37 Kirkwood Way, Leeds LS16 7EU