High Royds could be returned to its heyday when it existed as a self-contained community with its own amenities.

The proposals for the 19th century asylum have been unveiled for one week only in Menston and have met with mixed reactions.

The prestigious hospital site and its vast grounds stretching more than 200 acres was bought by developers the Raven Group for £26million last year.

Now after years of planning the first proposals have been presented to the public displaying an extensive housing scheme but also an abundance of community facilities.

The developers are determined to keep the picturesque grounds intact and the hospital's grandeur appearance.

Residents in Guiseley and Menston realise that something must be done with the hospital once it closes on February 25 but the extra people and traffic from proposed housing and commercial properties is a great concern.

The major part of the plans is the housing element, with an estimated 500 homes set to be built in existing and new buildings at High Royds.

The existing 1930s buildings will be demolished and replaced with new residential properties and the remaining grade two listed buildings will be refurbished for future use.

The developers promise that the new buildings will be sympathetic to the unique site of High Royds and will vary from five bedroom homes to one bedroom flats.

Also they are guaranteeing that 25 per cent of the residential buildings will be affordable housing consisting of shared ownership properties with ten to be rented to the elderly.

Vice-chairman of Guiseley and Menston Green belt Action Group (GAMBAG), Graham Hoult said: "I find it hard to make specific points until it comes to the planning stage.

"The thing that strikes me with these proposals is that they rely heavily on housing developments when in the early days - two years ago - they weighed fairly strongly on leisure and commercial facilities.

"Now they are demanding a greater number of dwellings than I think is good for the neighbourhood. I understand the economic climate is different to two years ago and they think it will be harder to find people to invest.

"I would be looking to negotiate a reduction in houses to 300 and for more affordable housing."

The new housing will be located behind the hospital and the conversion of the listed buildings for residential use will be on either side of the main entrance.

New houses will also be built at the back of the hospital near Menston where the former railway track ran and at the entrance of the site from the A65.

Aireborough MP Paul Truswell said: "A use obviously has to be found for the extensive old buildings, which are listed.

"Like many of my constituents, I would have preferred the new Wharfedale Hospital to have been built there.

"But even if it had, it would only have occupied a small proportion of the site and we would still have been dealing with an application of this type.

"We need to press developers and planners to minimise the impact on the area and that has got to mean scaling down these current proposals.

"We have already seen a number of smaller developments built or planned in the area, for example, at Silver Cross, Back Lane and Greenwoods."

Councillor Audrey Brand feels it is important that the houses are built in character with the hospital.

"The public consultation gives no details on the building, design, density and scale," she said.

"A lot of residents comments have been that it doesn't look too bad, but obviously the main thing from the picture that we have been given is the landscape assessment plan does give a vague

"We know something has to be done with the site and we don't want it to fall into dereliction. Traffic has to be sorted out first. The housing has to be sympathetic and in character and it must not be overdeveloped."

The 116-year-old building has been a central part of the community and the development is expected to be phased over five years.

Last night a public meeting was held by the developer to discuss the proposals, which are on display at Menston Library, Main Street, today and tomorrow 2pm to 5pm and Saturday 9.30am to 12pm.

Residents are also invited to attend a special study group day to discuss the effect on the village and its amenities on Saturday from 10.45am at Kirklands Comm-unity Centre.

There will be three small groups every hour discussing traffic and transport, site facilities and services and environmental issues.

The sessions will be repeated at 11.45am, 12.45pm and 1.45pm, for more information ring Julie Bateson on (01943) 871964.

Tours of High Royds are available today and tomorrow between 9.30am to 3.15pm lasting 45 minutes, anyone interested can call (0113) 3056202.

Anyone can send comments to The Raven Group, c/o BHWB Ltd, Bowcliffe Grange, Bowcliffe Hall, Bramham, Leeds, LS23 6LW.

New sports facilities could be

a winner with the community

New sports pitches and community facilities have been well received by residents concerned by the High Royds development.

Despite controversy over traffic problems and affordable housing the new features and facilities which will be provided in the new complex have been commended.

The present cricket pitch will be retained and a new football pitch, tennis court and cricket nets will be provided to enhance the facilities of local clubs.

A new car park will be created to serve the new sports facilities and will be screened off by woodland.

Vice-chairman of Guiseley and Menston Greenbelt Action Group (GAMBAG), Graham Hoult said: "The sports and leisure facilities are something to be applauded and I hope this will be open to everyone.

"I think it is a bonus that youngsters in Guiseley and Menston can enjoy the facilities and open spaces and have the opportunity to let off some steam."

A communal orchard will also be developed. There will be six seating areas around the site with benches situated on top of a hill overlooking the whole area.

Formal gardens and an exercise yard will be formed and an avenue of trees planted to restore the historic ground to its original design.

There will be a focal point to the rear of the hospital with a water feature and sculpture and the allotments could be reinstated.

A network of footpaths and cycle ways will be opened to offer access to the extensive grounds and a park will be provided for the wider community.

Mike Pyle, headteacher at St Mary's School, Menston, said: "We are very keen to be involved in any community plans for the development.

"Since September 2000 we have been designated a specialist sports college by the government and, as such, should be able to play a key role in promoting local sporting opportunities.

"However, plans are at such an early stage it is not sensible to comment on the use of specific facilities.

"At this stage we await opportunities to discuss possibilities with the planners, developer and local sporting clubs and organisations."

Education and health care are among many local services the developer has been looking at in order to reduce the impact on the community.

Two local surgeries cover Menston and Guiseley and the influx of 1,500 people could see their patient list increase substantially.

This has led to suggestions that either both surgeries could be extended or a new one built inside the grounds.

The grade two listed main hospital building has been designated for use for health care, which could see a doctors surgery or small hospital created inside.

Aireborough MP Paul Truswell is urging local schools and NHS services to make their views known about the possible impact on their services.

"It is essential that our vital local services are fully consulted on what they can cope with," he said.

"I am not satisfied that this has happened so far with developments in the area, but it is vital it happens with this one.

"The NHS will benefit from the money released by the sale, and it may be that public access to the green belt areas will be enhanced, and that the sports facilities will be upgraded.

"But we don't want neighbouring communities to pay a totally unacceptable environmental price for these benefits."

The proposals include provision for a new Roman Catholic primary school and for the creation of a nursery in the rear of the main hospital block.

Traffic could

jam up the

scheme for


The developer is proposing innovative environmentally friendly measures to reduce traffic congestion.

The problem of traffic which will be generated by the new homes and business is the major issue concerning Menston's residents.

There are fears that the estimated 1,500 new residents will overload the already congested A65 and the moor roads.

Developer the Raven Group has proposed to introduce free public transport measures to encourage new residents to leave their cars at home.

The High Royds site will be focused around a pedestrian friendly environment to prompt residents to walk and use cycles, as new public rights of way will be opened up and cycle paths created.

Every resident and office worker in the complex will be given a free Metro pass and there will be a community bus linking High Royds to Menston Railway Station and Guiseley town centre.

As part of the proposals the developer has entered into discussion with Metro to offer more frequent trains to Leeds and Bradford.

Vice-chairman of Guiseley and Menston Greenbelt Action Group (GAMBAG), Graham Hoult has commended the scheme.

"Theoretically plans to provide transport to Menston Railway Station and the offer of buses and passes are commendable in principle," he said.

"But in reality they will have little value. The public will accept it but they will then resort back to using their cars.

"Another matter of concern is how we deal with 1,000 cars trying to access the A65. I would like to see some figures about how many local cars and how many cars passing through can access the road.

"It is quite an exciting development but one that threatens us if it is not handled sensitively."

There will be two exits from the site onto the A65 called Guiseley Drive and High Royds Drive and an exit onto Bingley Road which will only be accessed by buses.

The developers claim a modern hospital of similar size to High Royds would be expected to generate 3,000 movements of traffic at peak times.

They believe the proposal will result in considerably less traffic and that specialist highways consultants have forecast that up to 660 vehicle movements will take place in the morning rush hour.

Aireborough MP Paul Truswell has expressed fears that the plans could create prolonged peak time paralysis and hazards.

He has had several meetings with planners to express his concerns about the impact on the area from cars and demand for services, and is calling for the proposals to be scaled down.

"Based on present experience, the introduction of so many extra cars could cause even worse tailbacks for miles in either direction than we see at the moment," he said.

They are hoping to improve the junction with the A65 and Bingley Road and will explore a solution in future plans.

Councillor Audrey Brand, chair of Ilkley Parish Council's Planning Committee, believes the two existing exits will be totally inadequate for the development.

"It is going to be totally inadequate for traffic coming in and out of the A65," she said.

"It is a very bad road regarding traffic problems and any development like this is going to exacerbate the existing problems.

"There are concerns from Menston residents about the moor road it is very narrow and is already used as a rat run through to the village.

"The public transport aspect people will still use their cars and if you think of disabled people and parents with prams and shopping they are not going to stop using their cars.

" The problem will be the traffic and they will have to do a proper traffic impact assessment and that has to be done before they can really go forward with the full application. We have to ask the question 'how much more traffic can the A65 take?'

"They are proposing a school and the traffic will still come in to Menston to drop children off."

The problem of traffic at St Mary's School, on Bradford Road, and the safety of schoolchildren has been looked at in detail by the developer.

It is proposed to build a bus lay-by within the grounds of the school as a 'drop-off' point to improve safety for the parents and children .

The former railway tunnel running under the A65 will be reopened to allow children to pass safely to the school.

Headteacher of St Mary's School, Mike Pyle said: "We have been informed of proposed developments of the High Royds site and we are taking a very keen interest, as the school is sure to be involved to some extent due to our close proximity.

"Our main concerns are safety issues regarding the A65. We have some ideas to improve the traffic flow through the school site and we are particularly keen to provide a purpose built boarding area for those pupils travelling by bus.

"The possibility of using the old railway tunnel for pedestrians would also signal an improvement."