Latest planning news – August
A lot of positive things happening and it will be good to see these being delivered. The Headrow is looking good and work on other city centre streets is about to start. The low-carbon District Heating System is spreading its tentacles and cycling & walking are being made easier. There is investment in the station and could Mass Rapid Transit be on the way? And Leeds United are back in the Premiership.
There was discussion on some suggestions made for temporary (or maybe semi-permanent) interventions in the public realm to attract people back to the city centre and our suburban shopping centres. Ideas for street painting, slides down steps, moveable planters and informal seating areas could bring us a bit of fun but it appears that Leeds Council has chosen to spend its money on marketing rather than physical features.
Turning to planning applications, we reviewed quite a few with a spread of comment types.
We supported the following schemes:
- 26-27 East Parade – Plans to create roof terraces on an office building will give workers an opportunity to relax in the open air
- Cliff House, Wortley – Restoration of a historic house which was damaged by fire immediately after being converted to apartments some years ago – we agreed that the roof extension proposed would not have a visual impact outside the immediate curtilage of the property
- Sheepscar Street South – Linked blocks up 8 floors high will replace small commercial buildings with student accommodation, commercial space and artists’ studios – we felt the commitment to public art & quality landscaping was refreshing, with a well-considered (if perhaps slightly dark) brick façade.
We made a neutral comment on two schemes:
- 350 new apartments at Flax Place (off Marsh Lane) – we were disappointed that revised plans for these 15 & 11 storey linked blocks did not meet up to the design quality shown by a previous very similar scheme on this site – 50 more flats than before, fewer 3-bed units, less open space provision, 1 rather than 2 staircases in each block and no commitment to energy-saving installations (it is close to the district heating mains so could presumably connect to these?)
- Torre Road, Burmantofts – we questioned the rationale for façade works on four LCC blocks but, following correspondence with the Council, were reassured that appropriate investigations into the environmental impact had been carried out – the scheme is supported by residents.
- Hillcrest House, Harehills – We objected to yet another office to residential conversion at Hillcrest House (the former DVLA offices). As usual the flats proposed are very small, with no external space for use by residents. Normally there would be no opportunity to influence such a scheme as it can be carried out under permitted development rights but here we argued that the changes to the elevation (it would look like a poor quality prison) should require submission of a full planning application.
- Former Arla Foods Site, Kirkstall Road – After much discussion, we decided that we had number of concerns about plans for redevelopment here. The only way we could express these is through a formal objection, but we felt that further design reviews could resolve many of the issues. We welcomed the overall aspirations of this outline application (new riverside walkway, high quality design, community facilities, potentially rethinking balcony provision in light of Covid-19 issues, etc) but had reservations over its scale (particularly along Kirkstall Road), the large number of car parking spaces and the access routes through the scheme.
We made no comment on plans to use part of a former office building in Alma Road (Headingley) for a SEN school, for a new shopfront in Briggate (former McDonald’s at the Headrow end will be a chicken take-away) and two additional houses on the CITU Aireside development.
To update you on schemes I have mentioned previously, consent has been granted for White Rose Station, new offices at Kirkstall Forge and the football hub alongside Elland Road Stadium (available for community and club use, this is to be open by mid-2021). Outline consent was given for the redevelopment of the LGI and, as this is one of the new hospitals promised by Boris Johnson, it is likely this will now move forward fairly quickly.
Other points discussed at our meetings included the following:
- WYCA is preparing a report on the climate change implications of the schemes it has proposed
- a Civic Voice webinar discussing housing design recommended the National Design Guide as a mechanism to assess planning applications for new housing estates – this could be useful for the Trust’s affiliated societies (national-design-guide)
- the Trust has continued to object to changes to Permitted Development Rights which are taking away the opportunity for planners and the local community to object to unsatisfactory schemes – as I write, the Government is proposing to also allow 2 storey extensions to homes
- work has restarted on the refurbishment of the Grand Theatre buildings but it is now unlikely to be completed before mid-2021
- members of the committee had a valuable meeting with LCC officers responsible for the design of the new Leeds Station entrance from Bishopgate Street – we still have issues with some aspects but will keep in contact with the Council as the design moves forward (see our comments on the Trust website)
- our ‘Transport & Public Realm’ subgroup has met a couple of times and will be picking up a few projects for completion over the next few months – should you wish to join this group, please contact the Trust via the office email address.
Next month, I’ll be reporting on our discussions on a Planning Brief for the land to the north of Eastgate – this area was to have been a major shopping centre but will now be a new mixed-use neighbourhood. Should you wish to comment on the brief, it can be seen at www.leeds.gov.uk – the consultation closes on 19 August 2020.
Mike Piet (Planning Committee Chair)