A COMMUNITY-based organisation that provides a space for men to come together, socialise, and engage in practical activities in Otley has applied for planning permission to build a dedicated meeting place.

Through its workshops and outreach programs, Wharfedale Men's Shed, promotes mental well-being, sustainability, and community involvement.

Since their formation in 2018, whilst they have been grateful to rent the Otley MakerSpace workshop in Otley Courthouse, they have been looking for better accommodation, due to space restrictions, which affects the well-being support and skill sharing opportunities they can offer.

They have identified a potential site owned by Leeds Parks, formerly part of Grove Hill Park, and have now submitted a planning application to Leeds City Council.

The site next to Grove Hill Park on Ilkley Road, Otley, currently has a small building - a closed and dilapidated tea room - which would be demolished to make way for the construction of a new hall that would host the group's workshop.

The application says the existing building is of a temporary construction, has no aesthetic merit and is not suitable for refurbishment.

Wharfedale Men's Shed hopes the new-build space would provide a suitable base to support the well-being of mainly retired men.

The new building would provide two spaces, a large workshop for woodworking and metalworking and a smaller ‘clean workshop/soft craft area’ that could be used by other local groups.

Such a workshop would mean the Men’s Shed would be able to facilitate more projects that they have previously had to turn down, due to working area and storage restrictions.

The Men's Shed is already recognised as providing a valuable service to the community and the new building would enable them to receive referrals of patients in their recovery phase of treatment by Leeds Health Trust and Macmillan Cancer Care. Social prescribers in local GP practices are also increasingly seeing Wharfedale Men's Shed as an important local support resource.

Since the group is a charity, funds for the construction, management and maintenance of the new hall will need to be raised by grants and public funding.

In the planning application the group describes the new building saying it will be set back from the existing stone wall at the north end of the site and will be built gable-on to the street.

It adds: "The level difference between the road and site, and the set-back behind the existing wall will reduce the prominence of the building from the road. As the site is a long distance from the street frontage it will not be seen in long views.

"The new structure will be a simple portal frame, clad in larch, with a low-pitched roof. Windows will be double glazed aluminium and the doors will be timber clad. A similar approach was taken in the construction of the Burley-in-Wharfedale Scout and Guide Headquarters, which is set within a public open space within a Conservation Area."

The planning application concludes: "The proposal is for a well detailed contemporary functional and affordable building to set back from the road, which will not harm the character of the Conservation Area."

To view and comment on the planning application (Ref: 24/02525/FU) visit Leeds Planning Portal online publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk.