Decision on Leeds tower blocks is delayed as Whitehall Waterfront residents plead with council to refuse plans
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People living in Whitehall Waterfront building claim plans to develop the neighbouring car park in Whitehall Road will have a “catastrophic effect” on their lives. They say the blocks, which would be 16 and 19 storeys respectively, would dwarf their own living quarters and wipe out their daylight.
The developers behind the plans for 500 build-to-rent apartments dispute those objections, which were first raised back in the summer when the proposals were submitted to Leeds City Council. A decision on whether or not the scheme could progress was due to be made at a planning meeting on Thursday, but city councillors have now deferred the matter in a bid to get more information.
Addressing councillors, objector Wendy Frith said: “Whitehall Waterfront has been my home since 2005. We are extremely worried and angry about the proposals. We fear the planned development will have a catastrophic effect on our lives, wellbeing and mental health.
“All the fundamental principles of planning are being contravened or ignored, we think, in the interests of profit.”
Her neighbour, Suzie Hardy added: “It’s the size and scale that impacts us the most. We were really hoping for some nice green space. There’s nowhere in the area to kick a ball or walk the dog.
“We’re not totally opposed to development (taking place) but it’s the impact on light we’re most concerned about.”
Opponents of the scheme fear the development will form a dark and narrow corridor between their flats and the new ones, which they say will make them feel unsafe and allow crime to flourish. There is also concern about whether or not emergency vehicles can access the properties.
Applicant Glenbrook insists that their fears about spacing are unfounded. It says there will be a “generous” distance between the existing flats and the new blocks at ground level, and that it will be well-lit and covered by CCTV.
Glenbrook representative Daniel Roberts told the committee: “We are here to deliver a quality development, and not any development. The proposals will enhance the existing public realm and maximise the site’s relationship with the River Aire for residents of the development and the wider community. This is a significant improvement to the riverside and wider public realm.”
Mr Roberts acknowledged that the development would be taller than the Whitehall Waterfront building, but claimed it would only be “15 to 18 per cent higher”. The figure he quoted is disputed by the objectors.
A final decision on the proposals will be made at a later date.