Plans to convert listed Leeds mansion into eight flats needs a second look, councillors say

Council planning chiefs have agreed to reconsider plans to convert a listed Leeds building into eight flats due to concerns around the design of an extension.

By Richard Beecham
Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 5:33 pm

Micklefield House in Rawdon had been home to politicians and captains of industry in the Victorian era, and was more recently used as offices by Leeds City Council

But developers now want to convert the Grade II Listed property, built in 1847, into eight two and three bed apartments, along with a first floor extension.

Richard Taylor objecting to the plans said that while his group supported the re-purposing of Micklefield House, the extension would be unacceptable. He added objections had been made by Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum, Leeds Civic Trust and Rawdon Parish Council.

The building as it currently stands. (Picture: Nicholas & Nicholas)

“These are not individual NIMBYs,” he said. “They are substantial organisations who understand planning law.

“There will be no restrictions on occupants of the second floor having gatherings with associated noise, music, shouting and possibly inappropriate language.”

He suggested the proposed extension, which would help create a third bedroom in one of the flats, should instead be scrapped and a two-bed flat should be built instead.

“This is an important Grade II listed building, and any changes must enhance it, or at least not cause harm. The annexe proposals do harm it.”

Commenting on the plans, Coun Jackie Shemilt (Con) said: “The comments that have been made is that I don’t think anybody has an issue with the conversion of this building, because nobody wants that size of residential house, so it is ideal to be converted into more bite-sized units.

“I acknowledge the points that some things have to be contemporary, but it is just too jarring at the moment, and needs tweaking to be a bit softer.”

Coun Paul Wray (Lab) said: “This is a difficult one. We have had conversations before about alterations to historic buildings that go horribly wrong.

“We have to make a judgement about whether or not it contributes to the building, or if it doesn’t need the extension. I don’t know which is the right size to fall down on.”

Coun Kayleigh Brooks (Lab) said: “I think it would throw the building out, whether it was a softer addition or a harder one – it is just going to look odd and strange.

“It’s got nothing to do with personal taste. It’s more the appreciation of the history of the building and the aesthetics of the building at the moment.

“In my book, it will cause harm and throw off the balance of the building.”

Members of the panel agreed to ask council officers to renegotiate with developers to improve the design of the extension.

A Leeds City Council report stated: “It is an imposing and distinguished 1840s house, enlarged in the 1870s, with a strikingly individual Gothic design combining steeply pitched shaped gables, a crenelated tower, mullion and transomed and traceried windows, and carved stonework.

“It has strong historic interest through its links to eminent local families, including John Venimore Godwin who was Mayor of Bradford whilst living at Micklefield House, and Thomas Arton, a Bradford ‘Stuff Merchant’ (a person manufacturing cloth to make clothing) who added the 1872 extension, and whose initials, along with those of his wife Hannah, adorn the building externally and internally.”

Updated versions of the plans are expected to go before decision makers in the coming weeks.