Care home appeal victory for Leeds school site

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A former school site in Leeds could soon house a new OAP care home despite city planning chiefs branding the design “poor” and “inappropriate” and potentially harmful on nearby businesses.

A planning inspector has upheld an appeal by Gladman Care Homes Ltd, the would-be developer of the former Otley School in Bridge Street and its nearby cafe and newsagents buildings, after councillors earlier rejected the firm’s proposal for a 48-apartment residential home for over 65s.

According to a council report, objections had included concerns about the “poor form and design of the building” as well as future impact on the Bridge pub and on some mature trees in the nearby area.

Councillors had also expressed concerns that there was no legal agreement restricting the planning use of the site.

However, a planning inspector has overturned the original decision, and described the plans as “appropriate” and “sensitive”.

A report to be presented to Leeds council’s South and West Plans Panel next week said: “This is naturally a disappointing decision and an appeal that officers did not expect to succeed.

It adds: “Design refusals will, however, always depend to an extent on the judgement of the particular inspector.”

The report adds that a document called the Otley Conservation Area Appraisal, which was used to put together the council’s objections and which “inspectors will attach significant weight to”, was “perhaps not as helpful to the council’s case as it might have been” because it dated from 2004.

It will now be updated.

The report goes on: “The inspector considered that the development was an appropriate response in design terms to its context.

“The inspector considered the proposal to be a ‘mannerly building’ representing a sensitive townscape response.”

The inspector had concluded that the new building “would not significantly harm” the nearby pub and its residents, nor the “future redevelopment potential of the public house”.

A previous application for the demolition of the school building had already been approved in January 2012. An earlier application for a 60-bedroom care home was refused in March 2012.

Date: 11th November 2017. 'Picture James Hardisty. The 'Leeds Grand Quarte in New briggate. Pictured The Howard Assembly Room at Opera North.

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