More than 1,600 homes could be built on the landmark former Tetley Brewery site in Leeds, twice the number originally envisaged.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported last October that the 22-acre prime site in the city’s South Bank had been sold by Carlsberg UK for an undisclosed sum to Vastint, the property division of the IKEA group.
Initial estimates by Leeds City Council planning chiefs had suggested the site could hold around 730 homes on the main 11 hectare plot.
However the owners have now told the authority that they want to build more than double that number.
The wider site could eventually hold 1,635 new homes, making it one of the city’s largest and most expansive urban housing schemes.
The ambitious new numbers emerge as an overall vision for development of the city centre and its surrounding area comes together.
Council chiefs are on the verge of signing off their Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan (AVLAAP).
The document - which has already taken 11 years to bring together - will be vital in laying down rules on the type and amount of new development which will be built in key parts of the city in the coming decades.
The final AVLAAP could be key to transforming huge swathes of developable land - up to 400 hectares - between Leeds city centre and the M1.
In recent consultation talks - detailed in planning documents seen by the YEP - Vastint told the council that “initial work undertaken by Vastint indicates that the capacity of the Brewery site alone could significantly exceed (particularly for housing) that quoted in the draft AVLAAP”.
The firm also “contends that the sustainable and accessible location of the site justify higher density development” and compares the site to other schemes such as Brewery Wharf and Leeds Dock nearby.
Council planning chiefs say the higher density housing is not necessarily a bad thing - and it ultimately depends on what the “trade off” is for the city centre public realm.
Councillor Jim McKenna, who sits on the Development Plans Panel, which is tasked with fine tuning the authority’s planning guidelines, said: “It could potentially be an exciting development with the new City Park there.
“It’s going to be higher density than we have been looking for.
“We will look for a better urban design and we’d hope for more open space and a better environment.”
His plans panel colleague Neil Walshaw agreed the council would be “looking for a very high quality urban design” in return for the higher density of homes.
“It’s a trade off,” councillor Walshaw said. “If they want more units, then they’ve got to do more with them.”
The housing numbers are currently mostly theoretical, as an actual planning application is likely to be many years away.
The AVLAAP document is one of three emerging masterplans which will be key to the future look and shape of the city.
The Aire Valley plan overlaps slightly with the council’s South Bank vision, which will see the authority work alongside other public bodies, the private and third sectors to bring forward a mix of uses in one of Europe’s largest urban regeneration schemes. It includes the proposed HS2 station and Holbeck Urban Village.
Together with the East Leeds Extension and enterprise zone schemes, the plans are helping complete the jigsaw of the city’s future housing and economic development ambitions.
The landmark Tetley’s site was home to the famous brewery for 189 years until the taps ran dry in 2011.
It was rumoured that around 11 developers were interested in buying the land and, though the final selling price was never revealed, the site was marketed for £35m.
The land now hosts an art gallery in the revamped Tetley headquarters building and a 900-space car park.