Plans to renovate Leonard Building and Thorseby House thrown into doubt as Leeds Council opt not to approve design plans

Hopes of renovating two of Leeds city centre’s grand old buildings have been thrown into doubt as council planning chiefs told a developer to go back to the drawing board.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 11:45 am

It follows a heated discussion this week about the future of the Leonardo Building and Thorseby House, near Millenium Square, and plans to convert them into student accommodation.

Members of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel were concerned about the redesign of parts of the site and chose to defer a decision in order to give the applicants a chance to change the plans.

An application had been submitted by McLaren Property to allow a 476-bed student accommodation complex.

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Artist impression of design plans.

As well as converting the two buildings, developers wanted to add a two storey roof extension to the Leonardo Building and single storey to Leonardo Printworks and Thoresby.

A new-build 11-storey student accommodation building would be constructed in the existing car park.

But it was the extension and new building designs which upset members of the panel, who opted not to approve the plans.

Commenting on the application, Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab) said: “As it is, it’s an absolute no-no. The roof extension is the wrong colour and just looks like an add-on.”

Coun Graham Latty (Con) said: “We have got two very attractive buildings that are not being spoilt. But this car park in-fill dwarfs them and makes them completely insignificant.”

Coun Dan Cohen (Con) added: “I am concerned about the lack of active frontage – it wouldn’t be the hill I would choose to die on but Leeds Civic Trust and Historic England make a good point there.

“What really concerns me is the removal of the original roof structure will diminish the quality of the building. As it is, I can’t support it.”

Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) said: “I do share concerns about the scale and materials of the extensions above. Some good work has taken place, and the principle is good.”

Coun David Blackburn (Green) said the roof extension looked like it had been “plonked on top”, while Coun Kayleigh Brooks described it as “so strange”.

Councillors eventually voted to defer a decision, meaning the application will come back before the panel at some point in the coming weeks. It is not known whether any alterations will be made to the blueprints.