Plans for new Leeds student halls 'worse than a prison'
Plans for new student accommodation near Leeds city centre have been slammed by councillors, with one stating: "We can build better prisons than this".
Members of Leeds City Council's planning panel unanimously voted in favour of delaying a decision on 188 new students units at Park Lane, after finding fault with the building's proposed red-brick design.
Speaking on the application, which would see student accommodation spread across a row of blocks ranging from three to six storeys in height, Coun Peter Gruen said: "I'm stunned with disappointment".
"I'm going to be totally outspoken here for once...I don't like it at all. I don't think it has any redeeming features," he said.
"Look at this building as it is...is this the statement we want to make as a planning panel in 2019?"
His views were echoed by Coun Asghar Khan, who added: "We can build better prisons than this".
Councillors largely found fault with the design's red-brick appearance, as well as a lack of green space near the site.
A council officer responding to their concerns stated that graphic designs of the site "didn't do it any favours" and the project would look different in real life.
However, Coun Colin Campbell said "planning panel members have to approve what's in front of them".
"We have to feel confident that what we have in front of us will work, and I don't feel confident this will work," he said.
Coun Gruen instead tabled a proposal that the application be deferred, so further work could be done on changing the design.
"It needs to come back with a different design, a different massing, a different outlook," he said.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the move.
The plans submitted by Maple Grove Developments and Rushbond PLC would require the existing five-storey Oak House at the site to be demolished.
The application also includes a bike storage area, in a bid to make the site "eco-friendly", while the developers are also looking into using renewable energy sources like solar panels to generate electricity for the student flats.