Central Leeds: Major works at gateway site win backing

Sweet Street had been put forward as a possible site for Leeds Arena.
Sweet Street had been put forward as a possible site for Leeds Arena.
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Plans for a major office, leisure and residential scheme on a key gateway site into Leeds city centre have won the backing of councillors.

The council’s city centre plans panel agreed planning officers could grant outline consent once a legal agreement covering developer cash contributions for public transport and other benefits had been signed.

Montpellier Estates Ltd, owned by Jan Fletcher, wants to build apartments, a hotel, shops, bars, cafes, offices and a multi-storey car park on a 10-acre site bounded by Meadow Road, Sweet Street, Jack Lane and Bowling Green Terrace.

Halfords occupies part of the site which each day is passed by thousands of motorists heading to the city centre from the M621.

The site was put forward by Montpellier as a possible location for the Leeds Arena under a tendering process but the council opted to build it on publicly-owned land, a decision over which both parties are still at loggerheads.

The company intends to build 10 blocks around a large area of public open space which a report to the panel said would provide a “green heart to the development”.

Design and landscaping details and the exact height of the blocks swill be the subject of further applications, but the panel heard the tallest building would be between 18 and 40 storeys.

A report said the application was similar to a scheme given approval in 2006 but which did not go ahead. As part of the legal agreement connected to the consent, the developer will provide over £1.1m for public transport improvements.

While accepting the plan was at outline stage, councillors were concerned about a lack of detail.

Coun Peter Gruen (Lab, Cross Gates and Whinmoor) said the parameters for the number of storeys varied widely and it was not clear whether they were to be built at the highest or lowest levels. Coun Graham Latty (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon) said: “We are being asked to take a lot on trust here.”

Coun Martin Hamilton (Lib Dem, Headingley) said the full details would be the subject of further “reserved matters” applications.

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