Sky Garden on 33rd floor of residential tower in Holbeck


February is supposed to be a short month but there was plenty to keep the Trust’s Planning Committee busy!

No presentations this month but we did have an opportunity to look around The Junction housing development alongside the former Monk Bridge Railway Viaduct – the views over the city centre from the top of the 21 floor block are spectacular but, in other directions, tall buildings being constructed alongside will limit views. The Viaduct Garden is a very attractive space and plans for retail/social use of the arches are moving forward. One of the planning applications we reviewed was for a variety of ‘installations’ intended to animate the area. While supporting plans for elements including ‘painted-on’ signage at the entrance, artwork panels and digital signage, we had some concerns with the rather ‘clunky’ design of a kiosk proposed for the garden deck – we objected to a neon installation that we felt would detract from the listed viaduct.

View from floor 21 of The Junction





This month we are back to the usual situation where we found ourselves having to object to a large number of applications that we felt did not meet the aspirations of the city or were poorly presented in such a way as to make it difficult to judge their impact:

  • Shannon Street: consent has previously been given for a development on this site close to Marsh Lane and the A64 but we felt this reworking ‘cheapened’ the appearance of the scheme – this is a gateway site and deserves better
  • Roundhay Park Mansion: although agreeing with the need to make an entrance accessible to all users, we felt the proposed cutting back of the stone step was a crude approach – reworking of external paving levels to create a short ramp would be less intrusive and avoid drainage issues
  • Coverdale House, East Parade: plans for the conversion of these ‘mock Georgian’ offices to student accommodation are very poorly drawn, with elevations not matching plans, corridors passing through apartments and studios with no windows – key objections related to the replacement of the existing timber windows on the frontage (secondary glazing could see these retained) and the limited cycle parking
  • Heat Pump for Temple Newsam House: while welcoming the commitment to sustainable low-carbon technology, we felt the application did not explain the strange choice of location (a prominent site alongside a proposed national cycle route) and did not illustrate how the proposed compound would look
  • Phase E, Northern Quadrant of East Leeds Extension: another estate of anywhere houses lined up in rows behind front garden car parking (the artist’s impressions never show the cars!) – it is sad that there does not appear to be any effort to deliver more interesting layouts which do not depend on use of cars to reach community facilities
  • 21 Merrion Street: we felt the proposed shopfront was not in keeping with the historic mock-Tudor building – the existing frontage could be easily refurbished
  • Hanover Square: the existing timber windows are a feature of this terrace within the Conservation Area and should be retained.
Shannon Street – Residential development ‘beyond’ Quarry Hill







To balance these, we did support some interesting schemes, albeit we had reservations about specific issues in some cases:

  • Wray’s Building, Vicar Lane: it is proposed to refurbish and extend this block of buildings on the corner of Vicar Lane and Sidney Street (leading to Victoria Gate) to provide residential apartments – a well-documented application explained how the existing buildings at different floor levels would be linked together by a new staircase and balconies, while retaining many of the building’s historic features
  • 15-17 Kirkgate, Otley: this is to be the site of a new Banking Hub – while we welcomed the use, we felt the project should include restoration of the timber gable element
  • The Faversham, Little Woodhouse: the plans would see the removal of an intrusive ‘modern’ toilet block and its replacement by an inclusive access route and restored bay window
  • Brotherton Wing, LGI: a 1974 rooftop extension is failing and will be removed, returning the building to its original appearance
  • Rob Burrow Centre, Seacroft Hospital: while welcoming the design of the building itself, we are concerned that there does not appear to be a comprehensive masterplan for the site as a whole – where will visitors/staff park, pedestrian access from York Road, landscaping, etc
  • 56-62 Albion Street (presently Berry’s Jewellers): we felt the redesign did not complement the adjoining listed buildings and delivered an uncomfortable relationship between ground floor bays and first floor windows.


Proposed rear access to Wray’s Buildings, Vicar Lane








Proposed Rob Burrow Centre, Seacroft Hospital






We made no comment on a number of projects, including various shopfront proposals for listed buildings, a new Padel Centre in Coal Road and amended plans for buildings in Sovereign Street, Cookridge Street and Call Lane.

With regard to updates on schemes previously discussed, plans for a padel tennis centre in the listed Roundhouse off Wellington Street have been approved – is this in addition to the one proposed in Seacroft which I mentioned above? The Trust’s representatives spoke at a recent City Council Plans Panel meeting which considered plans for Holdforth House in Eastside (Duke Street, next to the railway viaduct) – the decision was deferred, although on grounds of poor internal design rather than its external appearance and relationship with the potential Minster Park which was the basis of our objection. A new 33 floor block of apartments will soon start on site in Holbeck Urban Village – situated along the listed Midland Mills, it will feature a top floor Sky Garden for use of residents.

Sky Garden on 33rd floor of residential tower in Holbeck







Other matters discussed at meetings included the following:

  • the City Council’s project to prepare a ‘Plan on a Page’ for each of its parks – local communities will have the opportunity to put forward their ideas
  • a workshop for key stakeholders generated ideas for taking forward the Trust’s vision for Eastside – we are hoping to build this initiative over the next few months
  • an update on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) explained that the comprehensive updating and electrification of the railway line between York, Leeds and Manchester will require on-going closures and diversions to allow the work to be delivered safely and cost-effectively
  • developments on the Waterfront include testing of a remote control rubbish collecting unit, testing floating ecosystems to encourage biodiversity, electrification of the Leeds Dock water taxi and provision of allotments on Dock Island
  • the UKREiiF (a conference of property professionals and clients) will return to Leeds in May, attracting up to 12,000 visitors – an issue is the fact that the city only has around 7,000 hotel rooms, so some delegates will need to travel in from surrounding areas
  • the Leeds Crane Survey 2024 shows that the city has continued to deliver great projects and has set the groundwork for continued delivery over the coming years – despite the challenging economic climate, there have been 16 new starts in 2023 (remaining above the Crane Survey annual average of 14), with student accommodation providing the majority of these.

That is all for now but more Planning Issues will no doubt appear over the next month.

Mike Piet

Chair of LCT Planning Committee

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