PLANS chiefs have urged the would-be developers of Quarry Hill to ensure they “give back to the community” as they prepare to submit a formal planning application for the site.
Leeds Council’s City Plans Panel was last night presented with an amended version of an outline scheme for the site that has already been approved in principle.
Developer Caddick wants to build a sprawling mixed use scheme in various phases, with the first phase including £150m of work.
The company’s total investment in the site will top £300m.
The panel was told that a formal planning application could be submitted in the next few weeks, with work starting on site in April and completion by late 2020.
The latest version of Caddick’s Quarry Hill blueprint includes an increase in the number of total rental flats from 428 to 515, and an increase in height of two proposed tower blocks from 14-storeys to 16 and 17 storeys.
It also includes a reduction in the basement car parking numbers and a flexible agreement in relation to one of the buildings - the one closest to West Yorkshire Playhouse - so that it can be promoted for a hotel or office use.
Guy Denton, landscape architect on the project, said: “We have been looking at Quarry Hill as a whole, not just the Caddick site.
“Overall, there is a greater vision for Quarry Hill which is to create a unique regional as well as citywide destination. It’s got to be powerful enough to draw people from the city centre into the area, not just to live and work there but to enjoy and visit on a regular basis.
“Underpinning that will be a high quality and robust public realm, and that consists of small parks, squares, streets, courtyard spaces.”
He added: “Quarry Hill needs to be well connected back to the city - and it’s got to be a place where people want to work and live and socialise.”
The panel was told that the project has gathered “an enormous amount of momentum” in the past year, and that designers have been “very mindful” of the upcoming Leeds 2023 bid for the European Capital of Culture title.
Architect Julian Monaghan added that the project was “very much part of a wider city concept” and that it would have a “people first approach”.
The meeting was told there would be an emphasis on “quirky” features to stop the project becoming “overly formalised and austere”.
During a 90 minute discussion, councillors on the panel were broadly approving of the overall scheme.
However there were concerns about the reduced amount of car parking and small proportion affordable housing included in the scheme.
Councillor Peter Gruen said: “I have been impressed with the design. I think there is great merit to the plans as they are outlined.
“I think in general, this is something we have been waiting for a long time [for], and it will make a very positive contribution [in a] landmark and prestigious site for the city,”
However he also urged the developer to ensure the scheme will “give back to the community”, adding that there were several “valid” concerns which should be addressed.