Leeds councillor’s “bog standard design” jibe at Thorpe Park housing developer

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There was tension at a Leeds City Council planning meeting after initial designs for a major housing development on the key Thorpe Park site were slammed as “bog standard” and “something out of 1950s suburbia”.

Redrow Homes Yorkshire wants to build 271 new homes at the site near junction 46 of the M1.

It would complement a planned new shopping and leisure park, major offices scheme and a 113-acre public park with sports facilities.

But at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel, there was particular criticism for the design of the scheme from councillor Neil Walshaw, a self confessed fan of modern architecture.

He said: “This is a unique location, but if you look at the design as a whole, why on earth would we want - in design terms - what looks like 1950s suburbia sandwiched between a contemporary office park and railway? It’s incredibly out of sync with what we are trying to do as a city.

“I do have some form on liking modern architecture - but really, this is a location where we want to see contemporary architecture.

“Some of the most exciting developments coming forward...have a broad range of housing types.”

He said the applicant was “just plonking down bog standard designs” and this was “incredibly disappointing”.

“This is not what we talked about over the last 18 months when we have talked about this site,” he said. “It’s just not good enough.”

Responding to the criticism at the meeting, a representative from Redrow Homes Yorkshire said it was “disappointing that quality architecture is dismissed”.

“Quality architecture doesn’t have to be contemporary, it doesn’t have to be traditional,” he said, adding that the overall design was about “trying to integrate with Thorpe Park” and there was “nothing that proscribes the architectural style of this development” in the design brief.

He added: “We are proud of the architectural developments we produce.”

An officers’ report presented to the panel in preparation for the meeting said that an outline planning guidance for the scheme suggested it offered “opportunity for a contemporary design solution”, but pointed out that the required architectural style “was not fixed”.

The report added: “Redrow have advanced a scheme with more traditionally designed house types, within a basic design framework that has worked well elsewhere in the city.”

A full planning application for the development will be submitted later.