Who we are
Harehills Neighbourhood Forum is a group made of local people who are committed to building a community in which every person, with their own hopes and dreams, is equally valuable and precious. It aims to amplify the talent and voices of people living and working here, and develop a neighbourhood where all can thrive.
We are always keen to welcome new members and would be delighted if you decide to join us – you can contact us and come to any of our meetings or activities without obligation.
This year, we are taking part in a 1-year national pilot project with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Leeds City Council so we’ll be trying to consult as many people in the local community as possible – it’s really important that everyone’s voice is heard and that we understand what local people need and want in Harehills, now and in the future.
Membership of the Forum is open to:
- Individuals who live in the area
- Individuals who work in the area
- All community organisations that operate in the area
- Business, educational establishments that operate in the area
- Elected representatives from each Local Authority Ward (Gipton and Harehills, and Burmantofts and Richmond Hill)
- Individuals who have a material and on-going social, cultural, economic or financial interest in or involvement in the area who support the purpose of the Forum
Our aims and objectives
- Develop a Neighbourhood Priorities Statement, and afterwards, consider developing a Harehills Neighbourhood Plan that promotes and improves social, economic, and environmental justice and quality of life for people living in the Harehills Neighbourhood area.
- Actively seek the views of stakeholders.
- Meet the needs of the neighbourhood’s diverse population through imaginative, creative, responsive, and inclusive planning and development proposals based on principles of co-production.
- Amplify the voices of the Harehills communities in collaborative and creative problem solving.
- Enable the participation of all people living in Harehills and ensure this informs the preparation, production, and implementation of the Neighbourhood Priorities Statement and any future Harehills Neighbourhood Plan.
- Promote a positive image of Harehills.
- Assist in establishing and maintaining positive collaborative relationships across the area.
- Create a community directory and network.
- Work collaboratively with neighbouring Forums.
Harehills has a rich history, from the back-to-backs that make up most of the residential dwellings in the area, and the old schools and churches, to the newer buildings such as the mosque and library extension, a huge array of shops, and all the people who have lived and worked in the area since it first began to be developed in 1887.
Since that time, Harehills has been one of the areas that people new to Leeds would first move to and make their home; initially migrants came from elsewhere in England, but later, there were waves of immigration from abroad, beginning with Eastern Europe, then South Asia, the Caribbean, and eventually, all over the world.
The Harehills residents bring culture, diversity and heritage to the area and it means different things to different people. Generations of families have set up businesses and projects here and helped shape the Harehills of today. This willingness to change and provide for our newest neighbours has helped create a place with a wonderfully multicultural community, with food and ingredients available to buy from all around the world, and places to worship for people of many different faiths. However, there is no existing community group that is neighbourhood-wide and open to all, that offers the opportunity to consider Neighbourhood Planning and other issues, or where residents or other stakeholders can come together to develop a vision for Harehills – the pilot seeks to deliver this.
From 2021 the Interim Neighbourhood Forum members have been asking residents, businesses, and people with a connection to Harehills, where exactly they consider to be Harehills, and what Harehills means to them. We asked if they would like to find out how a Neighbourhood Plan and Forum could empower the Harehills community, if they would like to build a strong Forum of people committed to making Harehills wonderful for every citizen, and invited them to dream big and share their vision for everything they would like Harehills to be. The outcome of these conversations and our Dream Big events, which were held in lots of different places across the area, has helped us identify what location local people recognise as Harehills, what they love about Harehills and what they would most love to change about Harehills.
Twelve themes were identified in these initial workshops:
- Ensure that the Harehills Neighbourhood Forum Area benefits from the economic development of the City and funds that are in place to offset the impact of wider development on people living in Harehills.
- Safeguarding our environment – Protection from noise, pollution, and inappropriate development. Supporting businesses to develop in a way that is beneficial both to them and the communities they serve.
- Historical Conservation and restoration – Preserving and celebrating the buildings and diverse social history of the area where possible.
- Campaigning for the development of co-designed community spaces and buildings that are inclusive and encourage people to come together as well as providing opportunities for groups to meet and pursue specific interests and life-long learning.
- Developing and enhancing our green spaces and repurposing neglected areas to co-design play areas, sport pitches and quality open spaces that suit all ages and needs.
- Improving walking and cycling routes around the area by the development of green corridors that connect community amenities. Improve transport links to other parts of the city and reduce through traffic around residential areas.
- Improving waste disposal and recycling provision – it is not currently sufficient to meet the needs of the community, and opportunities for recycling and responsible large waste disposal are poor.
- Improving the energy efficiency of housing – Ensuring that people in one of the most deprived areas have access to energy saving infrastructure and housing.
- Ensuring better quality services are delivered to people in Harehills – A disproportionate number of vulnerable people are housed in Harehills, and appropriate support must be provided to ensure that existing residents are not negatively impacted.
- Improving education and youth provision – Harehills has one of the youngest populations. More needs to be done to support young people in education and extra-curricular activities that will improve their wellbeing and life chances. Few young people in Harehills access city wide educational and recreational facilities as they lack the means to get there so it is important that this inequality of access is addressed.
- Supporting older people and people who have disabilities – Many older people in Harehills become increasingly isolated as their terraced housing becomes unsuitable for their physical needs. People either become housebound and isolated or have to move out of the area, cutting them off from communities they know and love.
- Improving community safety and wellbeing – Many residents are under constant stress and fear from anti-social behaviour, noise nuisance, street drinking and speeding cars. Drug dealing has a big impact on the area along with, knife crime, serious assault, sexual exploitation and modern slavery.
The Forum will continue to work to identify themes so it can develop plans for improvement; they may be added to, developed or removed as appropriate throughout the Neighbourhood Planning Pilot process.