The city that can’t get it right with its car-themed memorials



The same area in Leeds where the remains of footballer George Best were found this summer will soon be home to a memorial to the world’s oldest living Formula One world champion, Gerhard Berger. It seems that no one in Leeds can ever seem to get it right.

The to-and-fro of planning procedures has made little progress in the past year with Leeds council expected to issue a planning application for this attraction within the next few months. The former World Championship-winning driver died from a heart attack in Buenos Aires last year, while holidaying in Argentina.

Plans for a memorial to Formula One driver Gerhard Berger

There have been plans for years for a world heritage park at Taddle Creek Park – the name given to a section of the Quantock Hills that overlooks one of the city’s main lakes. Approval for the project has been blocked several times, but the latest deadlock came in June this year when a private company, Dale Park, proposed building a sports complex. Soon after the company pulled out of the proposal, it was revealed the memorial would probably have to be built by another private developer. If all this is confusing you, what do you want to know? Why is a former Formula One champion being treated like this?

The memorial for George Best, which was stopped at its tracks

The reservoir has long been the scene of successive natural disasters – devastating floods in January 2012 and a 2.5 metre storm surge in April this year. Last summer, the emergency services and local residents were forced to undertake a massive evacuation. The airport, the reservoirs and roads were flooded and, until this summer, no memorial was allowed.

The former world champion’s remains were found and the ashes were reburied at Scafell Pike in the Lake District. However, Best is buried in the city. The search for a fitting memorial to the driver’s life is still ongoing, with many donations coming in. Along with the wooden bridge and fences already built, a sculpture garden is to be created.

However, the memory of former world champion Berger, who won five Formula One world championships, is not so popular among Leeds residents. They rejected the plans for the memorial when the community objections were presented in April this year. Residents have spoken of the need for respect, vandalism protection and “a safe pathway into the park”.

Memorial plans for Gerhard Berger failed in Leeds

Some have also questioned the location and pointed out that the memorial is for an athlete with no connection to the city. The plans are almost certainly shelved unless the council changes tack.

The council insists the development application has been submitted and it will be dealt with shortly. Will this be the last we hear of the dispute? It is hard to imagine the search for a Gerhard Berger memorial in Leeds coming to an end anytime soon.

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