AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
Today and Tomorrow
Today Alwoodley remains one of the premier residential areas of Leeds, a delightful place to live with the advantage of being close to both city and country. Unfortunately the process of suburban cramming, where every scrap of land is developed and older properties are demolished and replaced with blocks of flats, is again changing the character of the district. The advent of supermarkets has led to a reduction in the number and variety of shops on the parades and local amenities are constantly under threat. Woodland pathways are becoming major route-ways for ‘bikers’ and isolated car parks are being used by fly tippers to dump rubbish and have unfortunately become a magnet for lewd individuals who participate in ‘dogging’, a voyeuristic pursuit of the lowest kind!
As a haven of some of the wealthiest citizens of Leeds it has also become a target for criminals. In August 1999 a gang of four men plotted to kidnap the wife of a rich businessman in Alwoodley and ransom her for £2million. In November of the following year masked raiders tied up an elderly couple in their home on Harrogate Road and cleared out the safe with over £100,000 in jewellery and cash. Eighteen months later a 92-year-old lady died after being assaulted by a burglar, Mark Fitzgerald, who was caught and is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence. Early in 2002 Alwoodley was one of four wealthy north Leeds suburbs targeted by a gang of car thieves who stole over one hundred vehicles valued at nearly £300,000. In November 2003 thieves attempted to rob a businessman at gunpoint after following home in his car on Alwoodley Lane. Fortunately the victim stopped his vehicle and hit a panic alarm after three men ordered him to hand over can. They fled immediately. Most recently, in February 2004, John Luper was killed at his £900,000 luxury residence in Sandmoor Drive while the gang went on to ransack the house. As a result of this criminal activity many homes now have state-of–the-art security systems.
Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton summed up the situation clearly ‘…I would hate to see the day when people have to guard their homes with razor wire and alarms which prompt armed response teams. I think it is time for homeowners to be vigilant and for myself as a politician to press for more police on the streets and for higher detection rates.’ 139
At the time of writing property prices in Alwoodley remain high with some of the prestigious detached properties exceeding a million pounds. Planning applications for extensions, conservatories and garages continue to flood in to Leeds City Council, whilst the presence of skips on most streets reflects the desire of residents to continue to improve their homes.
Let us hope that some of the disastrous planning decisions like high-rise development along Harrogate Road and the granting of permission to demolish Alwoodley Old Hall in 1967 remain a thing of the past. 140 The 1921 sale particulars for the Alwoodley Park Estate described the area as ‘one of the most healthy districts in Yorkshire’, planners hold the key to preserving the unique character of this district which justly deserves to retain its place as one of the most popular residential areas in Leeds.
Alwoodley Lane 2005
139. Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 February 2004.
140. Yorkshire Evening Post, 4 March 1967.
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