Talks today over plan for Leeds skyscrapers near First Direct Arena

Wetherspoons in Leeds.
Wetherspoons in Leeds.

City planning bosses could today bring a transformation of Leeds city centre’s skyline one step closer.

Councillors will meet from 1.30pm to consider an application for two tower blocks near the First Direct Arena.

Unite Group Plc and RR Wing Portfolio Ltd want to demolish the podium building by the arena, which includes a Wetherspoons pub, and create 27-storey and 15-storey buildings, predominantly for student accommodation, on Merrion Way, Tower House Street and Brunswick Terrace.

Following the closure of the Grosvenor Casino in 2016, the two-storey podium building is now occupied only by the pub, which is likely to be replaced, council documents state.

The report drafted for councillors set to attend the City Plans Panel reads: “In approving the arena on the northern fringe of the city centre it was envisaged that it would act as a catalyst for investment and regeneration of the area.”

However, it “remains largely unimproved” apart from the southern side of Merrion Way.

The report concludes that the proposals would be “positive addition” to the area, could “further enhance the pedestrian environment” on Merrion Way, while the proposed student accommodation is “compatible with its location”. The development would also provide opportunities for local employment during its construction and subsequent use, it reads.

Council officers have recommended that members of the panel defer the plan and delegate it to the Leeds City Council’s Chief Planning Officer, Tim Hill, for full approval subject to various conditions.

A planning agreement would include the developer paying £170,000 towards improvements on Merrion Way, and that the accommodation is used solely by students in full-time higher education.