Residents object as plans are revealed to convert a care home into student accommodation in Headingley

Grove Court at Headingley.
Grove Court at Headingley.
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Headingley residents have objected to plans to convert a care home to student accommodation.

The owners of Grove Court Nursing Home on Cardigan Road, have applied to Leeds City Council for permission to make the changes at the care home.

They say the nature of elderly care is changing and the home will close in June or July this year. They added that they have been trying for four years to sell the building, which dates back to the 1900s, and was originally two pairs of semi-detached houses before extensions were added over the years.

However, locals say there is already an abundance of student accommodation in Headingley and the plans fly in the face of recent drives to have a more balanced community in what had become the student heartland of Leeds.

Derek Cockerham is the chairman of The Turnways & Laurel Bank Residents Association and says while students are a welcome part of the community, the sheer volume creates an imbalance.

In a letter of objection to the council planning department he writes: "Our Association has over many years been aware of the impact, to our area, brought about by the great number of students and their need for accommodation, While we have no objection to students and welcome them each year it is recognised that the impact of such great numbers has brought about an imbalance in our population and this has been recognised in the policies adopted by The Leeds City Council to bring about a much needed change. In recent years these policies have begun to work although to a limited extent but it is working. Any further introduction of accommodation specifically used for students would be a backward step in this process."

Dr Richard Tyler from the Leeds HMO Lobby said such properties were proven to lead to anti-social behaviour, noise and nuisance, imbalanced and unsustainable communities, pressures upon parking, increased crime, more private sector rather than owner-occupation properties and pressure on community facilities.

He added that there was a danger that retail, commercial and leisure facilities would end up being more suited to students rather than the rest of Headingley residents.

Dr Tyler added: "There would be significant loss of amenity to local residents from the conversion of the residential home to PBSA. Additional disturbance would be caused through the comings and goings of the future occupants which would of course be in excess of the current situation. Elderly residents would be replaced by 31 students in unsupervised accommodation."

The plans reveal there will be a variety of student flats to house 31 students in flats and two, three and four bedroomed cluster flats and that there will be little alteration to the external appearance of the building, which is not listed but does fall under the Headingley Conservation Area.

In documents submitted with the planning application a spokesperson for Grove Court said numbers of residents had fallen since the care home opened in the 1990s, as there has been a shift towards purpose built care homes and assisted livings schemes, and that is is half full at the moment due to a contract with the NHS which is set to end from around May.

In Headingley alone there have been several large developments including Victoria Court (90 assisted living flats), Grove Park (Care Home for 80 residents) and Headingley Hall (40 assisted living flats).

A spokesperson added: "Grove Court has struggled to compete with these new facilities resulting in a substantial reduction in the number of referrals for residents. This is despite the home being completed renovated two years ago and the Care Quality Commission rating the care home as ‘good’ in all areas for many years.

"Efforts to sell the care home as a going concern over a four-year period have failed. Consequently, as the care home is no longer required or economical the home is due to close later this year. The existing use is no longer viable thus potentially resulting in a building that would remain empty and possibly subject to vandalism. To keep this building in use, it must be viable and sustainable. The property is far too large to operate as a family home and lends itself well to the proposed use."