Flats prompt fresh call for tighter controls in Leeds suburb

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PLANNERS have been urged to consider doing more to dampen developers’ drive to build more new homes in Headingley.

Leeds City Council is already committed to doing what it can to protect an area some already see as overcrowded, and has indicated it will discourage bids to convert larger properties into flats and bedsits.

However, work began recently on the construction of new flats on the site of a small car park off Granby Street - and some traders are worried fewer spaces will mean shoppers will find it even harder to park.

“All the buildings around here are quite close together so it already feels a bit claustrophobic having another one,” said Viktor Orban, who manages Oxfam Books.

“The work is affecting charity shops as people can’t drop off donations easily any more - but the main question is, do we really need more flats in Headingley which is already overpopulated and is lacking parking space?

“It is quite a nice suburb with shops and business but, if anything, it’s not short of accommodation.”

A spokesman for the Leeds Civic Trust confirmed recent trends suggest fewer students are taking accommodation in Headingley, with more properties in the area now being converted back into family homes.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said the authority is also keen to see the trend continue.

He said: “The council has put in place an Article 4 Direction in Headingley and the surrounding areas, which means developers cannot change a property suitable for occupation by a family into a house in multiple occupancy without first applying to the council. This is one measure the council is using in an attempt to improve the housing mix in the area.”

However, he added, as the flats on Granby Street are new and not part of a conversion project, they are not covered by the directive. The council did oppose the planning application for the flats but it was approved on appeal by a planning inspector.

Mr Orban urged the city council’s planners to consider stiffening its policies to include new developments as well as conversions.

“What Headingley needs is more parking and some more green spaces, parks and gardens and not more flats, take-aways and dog mess,” he said.

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