Progress at last on stalled Leeds hotel site?

Progress on the site of a proposed new student accommodation block in Leeds city centre, which will replace a scrapped hotel development, has been welcomed by councillors.

Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 3:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 3:30 pm
Date: 4th July 2017. Picture James Hardisty. The construction of the scrapped Hilton Leeds Arena, Portland Cresent, Leeds.

As previously reported in the YEP, Select Property Group has taken over the stalled development site at the junction of Portland Crescent and Woodhouse Lane, which was due to be the Hilton Arena hotel.

The hotel plan came to an abrupt halt two years ago, when the contractor went into administration, leaving a half started concrete shell on site.

The new plans will see the original 14 storey shell increased to 16 floors, and the creation of 312 student studio apartments under the Vita 2 brand.

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Project bosses have now presented initial landscaping and pedestrian space plans to Leeds council planning chiefs ahead of the expected submission of the full planning application - and the possible start of building work - later in the year.

The landscaping blueprint includes large numbers of new trees to create green pedestrian walkways, removing the current temporary pedestrian facilities, creating a new 5.5 metre wide footpath, and new dropped crossings.

The City Plans Panel was told that the site was near an “important gateway into the city centre and the scheme does respect that, both in terms of architecture and public realm”.

Councillor Peter Gruen, who has been campaigning for two years for progress on the site, said the current situation - with half the hotel built and ongoing nuisance for pedestrians - was “quite intolerable”, adding there was “nothing much happening” on the site.

He urged the developers to “get on with it - show us what you are capable of doing and do it”.

James McKenna, chair of the City Plans Panel, said he welcomed the developer’s “first vision” and the ideas for public realm improvements, which would help students and other pedestrians.

He added the panel “doesn’t want to cause any obstruction and wants to allow you to meet the deadline to have students in place by September 2019”.

The beleaguered site first hit the headlines two years ago, when the YEP reported questions were being asked about a lack of progress on the site, which had become a “total eyesore” in a flagship area. The hotel scheme had been languishing in limbo for a full year before that, when the original contractor went into administration.

The hotel development arm of the contractor also later crashed.