‘Heartbreaking’ shortage of housing for families in Leeds city centre, says councillor
More larger flats need to be built in Leeds city centre to accommodate families, a council planning meeting has heard this week.
A meeting of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel heard details of early blueprints to build hundreds of flats on the site of a car park off Water Lane, to the south of the city centre.
Developers McLaren living want to create a stepped building of nine to 26 storeys, which would include 360 flats overall, with more than half being one-bedroom and only 18 having three bedrooms.
According to Leeds City Council’s housing mix policy, a minimum of 20 per cent of the flats – around 72 in total – should have three bedrooms.
It led one panel member to call for more larger flats to be included in such developments, saying she had dealt with “heartbreaking” instances of families living in the area who simply had nowhere to live.
The site is currently used as a car park, and is bordered by historical buildings, such as Midland Mills, Marshall Mill and the Round Foundry. According to developers, the building would also include landscaping, car and cycle parking and a roof terrace.
Coun Kayleigh Brooks (Lab) asked how the project would be family-friendly, to which the developers’ representatives said such detail could be included in the final plans, but had not yet been sketched out.
The developers also claimed there was not as much demand for three bedroom flats in the city centre.
Coun Brooks said: “There is not that much that is affordable and accessible for people. The demand for three beds in the city centre, I think, is going to rise.”
Fellow plans panel member Coun Dan Cohen (Con) later added: “I am more inclined to believe that city centre three bed flats are normally going to be three friends renting together rather than families.
“While I would want to see more three beds in that area, it wouldn’t be something that caused me to say ‘the three bed didn’t hit the target percentage’ but it would be something I would like to see more.”
Coun Brooks responded: “My comments regarding demand for more three bedrooms doesn’t come from nowhere. I am dealing with a lot of heartbreaking housing casework where families are living in overcrowded conditions. They want to live in a house but can’t live in a house.
“We can’t build out more houses because we don’t have the space for it, so the only logical place for families to live in the city centre is blocks of flats.”
Chairing the committee, Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) said: “Councillors representing inner city wards, we want to see the city centre as a place some families would want to live in. There are plenty of good schools in the area these days, when there weren’t 20 years ago, and we want to see a balanced and diverse community.”
A report states around 55 car parking and 300 bicycle parking spaces would be included in the plans.
As the report is in an early stage, known as a pre-application, no decision was made, and a more detailed full application is expected in the coming months.
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