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Decision due on new Leeds Beckett University building with ‘rooftop track’ and unique design

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Controversial plans for a new teaching and research building at Leeds Beckett University’s Headingley campus are to be decided tomorrow (Thursday).

The University wants to demolish an existing teaching building and car park and replace them with a new hub - to be known as the Carnegie Teaching and Research Building - which will also include health clinics, a gym, an indoor 60m athletics track, general teaching, offices, a café and public space.

The unique design also includes a rooftop walking track and a jutting third storey running track described as “the principle architectural feature of the building”.

However the plans have proved controversial as they would also mean dozens of parking spaces are lost.

There have been 66 objection letters, mainly focused on the loss of parking, and claims by local residents in Headingley that this will have a knock on effect for their streets and is of “overwhelming” concern. Despite this, the plans are being recommended for approval.

An advisory report prepared by council planning officers for Thursday’s plans panel meeting at Leeds Civic Hall says that “factors weighing in favour of the scheme far outweigh those factors weighing against”.

The report adds the development would be of “significance” and will “provide a focus for the University’s School of Sport”.

“The third storey running track will be the principle architectural feature of the building,” the report says.

“The proposal does not aim to increase the campus population, whether in respect of students, staff or visitors, but will rather update, replace and consolidate existing facilities.”

The first floor of the building will include a balcony area for spectators to view the outdoor athletics track.

The report points out that the University has “committed to introduce a new car parking management plan at the campus” before September, and has pledged to “engage” with local residents.

It is also committing to provide a £70,000 fund to “tackle any related issues which arise within the vicinity of the campuss, i.e. On neighbouring streets, as a result of the car parking changes proposed”.

This is as part of a detailed Travel Plan, which also includes traffic-cutting ideas like a Car Club at the campus.

A spokesperson for Leeds Beckett University said: “Throughout the planning process, we have worked closely with the local community, Leeds City Council and ward members. Indeed, the council’s highways team is confident that there will be sufficient parking spaces on-site both during and after construction.

“We have been proactive in inviting residents to a range of events including drop-in information sessions, and meetings with residents’ associations, ward members and our Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Slee, in order to listen to the views of the community.

“Our existing travel plan has been updated, with exciting new developments including significantly more cycle parking spaces, electric vehicle charging points, a car-share club and a regular staff shuttle bus between our Headingley and City campuses.

“We welcome the opportunity to further develop our travel plan as part of this planning process, and have already committed £70,000 to Leeds City Council to help improve car parking in the local community.”

Under the plans being discussed tomorrow at Leeds Civic Hall, 175 car parking spaces would be lost, but would be replaced by 88 new spaces in the barrier controlled area. Overall, this would mean 87 spaces are lost in the controlled area, down from 673 to 586.