Future of ‘illegal’ car park secured

The support of more than 3,500 motorists in Leeds has helped secure the future of a car park previously deemed ‘illegal’ by city councillors.

Sentinel Airport Parking, located in Yeadon, was found to be in breach of planning regulations in September 2010, a discovery that could have resulted in the closure of the car park in as little as five years. However, as of May 2011, a local planning inspectorate has granted the facility’s owner, Austin Hayes, Ltd., a licence to continue operating the Warren House Lane site.

The outcome has secured fifty local jobs, according to a press release by the car park authorities, but the permanence of Sentinel’s agreement with Leeds Council hinges on the fulfilment of a number of conditions. The car park must have no more than 2,000 parking spaces, and steps must be taken towards installing facilities for electric cars and cyclists.

Regardless of the conditions, Ed Hayes, chief at Austin Hayes, was delighted with Leeds Council’s decision, “We were overwhelmed by the public support we received. It is a tribute to the hard work of our staff that (our customers) appreciate the service we provide”. Mr. Hayes indicated that Sentinel would help Leeds Bradford International Airport (LBIA) become a “thriving economic hub”.

The development is nonetheless surprising, given the level of objection raised by officials in Leeds during 2010. Leeds City Council urged the planning committee to refuse Austin Hayes’ application because the land beneath the Sentinel car park was a designated ‘key employment site’. LBIA chiefs were equally unsupportive, noting the planning infraction, and the fact that the hub’s own car parks could accommodate any motorists displaced by the closure of the Sentinel site.

Sentinel Airport Parking has been operating as a licensed – or “LBIA Approved”, to quote the company’s website – car park for more than 15 years.

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