Victoria Gate Hotel plans: Concerns that 14 storey building next to John Lewis building in Leeds may be 'too tall'

Plans for a huge 14 storey hotel next to Leeds' Victoria Gate may come unstuck over concerns about its height and an electronic ad billboard.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 7:47 pm
Preliminary designs for the hotel were released earlier this week.

Designs for the 205 bed building, which have been put forward by the company that built the John Lewis superstore in the same area, were released earlier this week.

But a panel of city councillors who discussed the project on Thursday have given the possible scheme, which is in its very early stages, a lukewarm reception.

Although broadly in favour of the idea, elected members have asked developers Hammerson UK to consider making the building shorter.

Leeds councillor Peter Gruen said he was disappointed that developers were only aiming for a "three to four star" hotel grade.

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A proposed display screen on the side of the hotel, described as "a dealbreaker" in the meeting, may also have to be moved or abandoned altogether.

The feature would show a carousel of electronic adverts.

But speaking at a city plans panel meeting on Thursday, Councillor Liz Nash said: "You're squashing a pint into a quort pot.

"You've raised the height to an unacceptable level. I like the building design, but not at this point (geographically).

"This is out of scale with the other buildings in the area. I can't support the building in this location and I don't find the ad screen acceptable."

Hammerson representative Carolyn Flynn said: "We're looking at a 200 bed hotel and we are required to have a lot of public facing areas, like a gym and a conference room.

"In order to accommodate all of that and the 200 beds we need to go up to 14 storeys.

"In order for this proposal to be commercially viable we need the screen.

"We believe this hotel will be an economic driver for Leeds and that cultural quarter."

Ms Flynn said that a "high profile" hotel chain with no current presence in Leeds was being lined up to run the development and that it was aiming for a "three or four star" grade.

But Councillor Peter Gruen said: "I'm disappointed by that because the gap in the market in Leeds is high-quality five star hotels.

"That's something we haven't really got at the moment. I wouldn't say three or four stars is high quality."

Although the building's designs were praised by members, a vote taken at the end of the meeting indicated most councillors wanted the hotel to be shorter and for the screen's position to be reconsidered.

However, Councillor Dan Cohen was enthusiastic about the project.

He said: "I really like the designs. I'm a big fan of Las Vegas, and anything that reminds me of that is welcome.

"I've no problem with the screen."

It is understood Hammerson will take on board councillors' feedback before the scheme goes onto its next stage. Any formal planning application for the hotel is not expected to be submitted for at least several weeks.

Local Democracy Reporting Service