New homes plan for historic Leeds hospital site

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Planners are recommending the go-ahead for a controversial scheme which includes building dozens of homes on the green belt on the site of a former mental hospital in Leeds.

The 300-acre High Royds estate in Menston opened in 1888 as a pauper lunatic asylum, and later became a psychiatric hospital. It was shut in 2003 and its services relocated. More than 450 homes, including 200 new homes, have been built on the site since 2005.

Developers Avant Homes are now seeking planning permission to convert the Grade Two listed administration building, which has an imposing clock tower, and former workshops, into 46 apartments.

But they also want to build 25 homes on Green Belt off Norwood Avenue - a move opposed by some residents and Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum.

In a report one objector said: “The need for refurbishment does not outweigh the irrevocable damage to the green belt.”

Planners at Leeds City Council are recommending councillors approve the plans, subject to a legal agreement, at a meeting this week.

They said the administration building “was and still is the first building you see...set within vast parkland to the front. To secure the conversion of this and enable it to be restored is a major positive.”

The building of the new homes will be phased to ensure the administration block is converted at the same time. Officers stated: “Given the benefits the scheme will bring to a designated heritage asset, it is concluded that very special circumstances exist to outweigh the harm to the green belt and any other harm.”

Since the hospital’s closure, the site has been used as a location for the film Asylum and for the TV series No Angels and Bodies. David Jason’s 2005 drama Diamond Geezer was also shot there, and local band the Kaiser Chiefs have written a song about High Royds.