No room in Leeds for ‘hulk-like’ student flats block, panel is told

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A blueprint for 87 student flats on a long derelict site in Leeds has been sent back to the drawing board by planning chiefs, after the design was slammed as “ugly” and “hulk” like by locals.

The application for Burley Street, between the city centre and Burley, is for 87 self-contained studio flats, a retail unit and a second floor communal roof garden.

But there has been a flurry of objections from locals, who say the area is already “overrun” with student accommodation and families suffer from anti social behaviour and noise.

“Quite frankly we have had enough of these ugly student hulks,” objector Richard Hellawell told a Leeds City Council planning panel.

“Our area has been swamped by student blocks.”

Councillors were also largely critical of the plans.

Coun Colin Campbell said the building “doesn’t enhance the area”.

Councillor Neil Walshaw, whose own Headingley ward is a traditional student heartland, criticised the “post industrial” design, adding that the city “shouldn’t really be aping 1950s industrial chic”.

However he also noted that “the more student housing we get, the more [family] housing it frees up”.

Councillor Peter Gruen said: “I find the design not attractive and not in keeping with the aspirations the city has. That doesn’t mean we want a glass palace, or something glitzy with gold cufflinks. But the design is disappointing and could be better.”

Another panel member found, however, found that the design was not the “big inhumane building” it came across as to some, adding that: “I appreciate the cosmetics and aesthetics don’t appeal to people, but I didn’t have a problem with the layout.”

Council officers had recommended that the application be approved.

A report presented to the plans panel said the project had “the potential to enhance the character of the surrounding area, by regenerating a derelict brownfield site that has been vacant for many years”.

“The principle of the development of the site for use as student accommodation and a retail unit is acceptable...and it would deliver sustainable, economic growth, jobs and specialist housing,” the report added.

“The size of the studio flats, although not spacious in all cases, are on balance considered acceptable.”

The application, by developer Burley Place Limited, will be brought back to the plans panel later in the year with amendments.

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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