Early plans for 33-storey tower on former Leeds city centre Santander site ‘attractive’ and ‘promising’

Early plans to replace the former Santander offices in Leeds city centre with a 33-storey tower have been called ‘attractive’ and ‘promising’ by planning chiefs this week.

Friday, 21st February 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 3:53 pm

A pre-application from developers Merrion Street Ltd outlined early plans to demolish 44 Merrion Street and replace it with a 545-bed student accommodation building.

Developers showed a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel artist impressions of how such a building might look if it were eventually given the green light.

A report added the development could also include ‘a mix of ground floor uses’, potentially including ‘retail space and a community/arts centre’.

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Artist impression of how the tower could look.

During comments on the pre-application, committee member Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab) said: “The tall part of the building is very attractive and will be enjoyed by many people, but the plinth needs further work on it.

“I think it is a strong proposal so far,” added Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab). “We should be really pleased with this. This is super promising – I’m really pleased.”

No decision was made by the panel, as a full planning application is yet to be submitted. However, members of the committee agreed that such a development would be acceptable in principle.

The Santander offices closed in 2019, and a report by council officers claimed the proposal would only reduce employment land by a ‘relatively small amount’.

The current site, formerly offices for banking firm Santander.

It added: “The top of the tower would be at level 31 (33 storeys in total when the podium is added). In common with upper levels of the podium it would contain student accommodation.

“A mix of clusters and studios is proposed resulting in approximately 545 bed spaces. Dedicated student amenity areas are identified at lower levels and upper levels of the development towards the eastern end of the site. The 10 bedroom clusters would each have shared kitchens and living areas.”

More detailed plans are expected to be submitted later this year.