The Society was founded in 1971, In a cottage in Ellis Terrace, to challenge the City Council's identification of over 60 'unfit dwellings', in terms of environmental health, only 21 of which were immediately eligible for improvement grant; also to challenge the City Council's land allocation for a new school on Cottage Road that also threatened demolition.

In the period 1971-75, the Society successfully argued for the designation of a conservation area (1972), the first such area outside the city centre, and for improvement grants to nearly all of the 'unfit' dwellings - being cottages and terraces that clearly formed the essential heart of the urban village of Far Headingley, properly recognised as an area of special architectural or historic interest.

The Society is dedicated to “the conservation and improvement of the area for the benefit of the inhabitants and all who make use of its amenities.”

The Society has continued to be active in many aspects of local life.  This includes vetting all planning applications to ensure that the area remains attractive to all who live and work here.  To this end FHVS published, after wide public consultation, the “Far Headingley, Weetwood and West Park Neighbourhood Design Statement”, available on the internet in two parts [part 1] [part 2].  This sketches out briefly the stages through which the area developed and then defines in some detail the character of various parts of the area.  The Statement was adopted in February 2005 by Leeds City Council as Supplementary Planning Guidance.

The Society further drafted the Far Headingley Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan, which the City Council approved on 10th November 2008 as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.


Far Headingley – a village in the city

The nucleus of Far Headingley Village was built on Headingley Moor after its "inclosure" by statute in 1829 when Cottage Road and Moor Road were formally laid out, and individual building plots were offered for sale at auction.  By the mid 19th century it had become a sizeable rural settlement, north of Headingley, on the way from Leeds to Otley, the focal point being The Three Horseshoes Inn and horse tram terminus, at the junction of the road to Adel, now Weetwood Lane. [Map - opens in new window] 

In 1868 Far Headingley became a separate parish with the consecration of St Chad's Church in the wooded grounds of Kirkstall Grange, the private estate of the Beckett family (wealthy Leeds bankers and church patrons) which extended along the entire west side of the Otley Road.

The pattern of development west of Otley Road, consequently, owes its form to the sequence of sales which began in 1906 when the Kirkstall Grange estate was finally sold by the Beckett family.  The fashionable "Arts and Crafts" style homesteads of Edwardian West Park were built at this time north of the Water Board's 1905 filter beds, which closed nearly 90 years later and now form the site of Central/ Park.  The rectilinear Church Woods and Drummonds were built in the 1920s, and the concentric streets of the Beckett's Park estate south of St Chad's date from the 1930s.  Kirkstall Grange itself became a teacher training college and is now the Leeds Metropolitan University Headingley Campus, while land bought by Leeds Corporation for public recreation remains open parkland - Beckett's Park.

To the east of Otley Road, by 1900 the cluster of early cottage housing, shops and businesses around Cottage Road had expanded to include elegant mid-to-late Victorian terraces to the south, the Claremonts, and large imposing stone and brick villas facing Otley Road from Shaw Lane to the Reservoir site.  Further north, along the road to Adel, the well-wooded Weetwood estate had been sold in large portions for opulent mansion houses, several of which became University Halls of Residence after the Great War.  The City acquired the Hollies park in the 1920s and from the mid 20th century more housing development took place including the Foxhills within the grounds of Foxhill.

Between Weetwood and the village, the fields and slopes of the Hollins and the southern part of Weetwood Lane were filled with inter- and post-war housing.  On Moor Road, Victorian villa grounds were developed from the 1900s to form the Moor Parks.  By contrast, the industrial terraced housing of the Highburys, built in the 1870s to accommodate mill workers, still remains.

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