Campaigners fighting for more family homes in the Leeds “studentland” neighbourhood of Headingley have suffered a double setback.
Councillors have agreed the former Leeds Crisis Centre and a former children’s home can be converted into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
The former crisis centre in Spring Road, which until its closure was used by the council to provide support services to people with mental health problems, will be used as a 12-bedroom HMO.
The former charity-run children’s home in Claremont Drive will be converted to a seven-bedroom HMO.
Members of the council’s west plans panel heard the council had received nine letters of objection to the Spring Road application. Among the objectors were Leeds North West Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, the Leeds HMO Lobby and Coun Martin Hamilton (Lib Dem, Headingley).
Their grounds of objection included highway safety, lack of off-street parking, impact on balanced communities, noise, loss of privacy and a potential increase in anti-social behaviour.
A planning policy is in place in Headingley to stop homes suitable for family accommodation being converted to HMOs.
But the panel heard that the former crisis centre was not in residential use and its size meant it was unlikely to be occupied by a family.
A report to the panel said: “On balance the proposed change of use of this property to a 12-bed HMO is considered acceptable.
“It is considered the proposal will prove beneficial in bringing back into use a vacant property.”
Coun Jonathan Bentley (Lib Dem, Weetwood) argued it would be better for the community if the building was to be converted into three apartments for families.
The panel agreed officers could grant permission following negotiations with the applicant over the provision of some off-street parking.
Leeds HMO Lobby was also among the objectors to the Claremont Drive scheme which the panel voted 4-3 to accept.