Fury over historic house flats plan in Leeds

Campaigners against plans to convert Spenfield House and to build eight houses on the land. Picture by Simon Hulme

Campaigners against plans to convert Spenfield House and to build eight houses on the land. Picture by Simon Hulme

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Residents in Leeds are uniting against plans to convert a listed building into flats and for eight new houses to be built on its land.

Campaigners say the proposal for the Grade II* listed Spenfield House, on Otley Road in Headingley is “horrendous” and not in keeping with the Weetwood Conservation Area where it is sited.

Designed by George Corson, architect of the Grand Theatre, and built in 1875-1877, it is considered one of the finest Victorian villas in Leeds and its listing puts it in the top ten per cent of buildings nationally.

This will be the third application for the site. A similar application by the Devere Group PLC was approved by Leeds City Council in 2011 but never built.

Then last year, Round Strategies Ltd put forward another application which was later withdrawn, before submitting this current proposal.

The developer plans to convert the house into six flats and build eight terraced houses.

Nearby resident Ken Clayton, of Weetwood Park Drive, said: “The houses will be at the bottom of our gardens, looming into the air, with metal corrugated zinc cladding on the top. It’s just horrendous and totally out of keeping with the conservation area. It’s just unbelievable. Everyone is up in arms about it. I have been here for four years. It’s the last two proposals that I have been objecting to. But some of my neighbours here have been objecting since 2008.”

Coun Sue Bentley (Lib Dem, Weetwood), who has been supporting the campaigners raised concerns about some of the “museum quality” rooms in the house, and said: “Even from their artist’s impression, it doesn’t look very attractive. It looks more like an industrial building. It will be quite intrusive to those residents. None of this is appropriate for Spenfield House. It’s a lovely building, set in its own area. It’s an iconic building. It’s almost desecration to be allowed to do this to it.”

A spokesperson for Round Strategies Ltd said they have been working closely with Leeds City Council on the plans, which have also been approved by English Heritage.

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