Words: Richard Beecham
Plans to push through final approval for 152 houses on a former Leeds City College site next to one of the busiest routes into West Leeds are set to go before council decision-makers next week.
Blueprints for new houses on the disused Horsforth Campus site off Calverley Lane have been kicked back and forth between developers and Leeds city councillors for months, with many elected members continuing to have concerns around the designs.
But a paper, set to go before members of the council’s City Plans Panel next week, suggests further improvements have been made to the plans, and that councillors should approve the scheme in principle.
Following a high court ruling last year, the site had also been returned to the green belt. The space currently houses two-storey college buildings previously used for teaching and greenhouses, as well as car parks and grassed areas with trees.
Plans for the site had been brought forward by the college along, with Galliford Try Partners and Stonewater. They are set to be made up of 100 per cent affordable housing.
Despite the green belt status, a meeting of the panel in October 2020 agreed that, as the site was previously developed and currently unused, development should be allowed in principle.
More advanced plans then went before the panel on February 25, but members still raised questions around the housing types and the size of the apartment block. Other concerns around green space, parking and the lighting of cycle routes were also made.
A report, set to go before members suggests improvements have been made to the plans. It states:
“Members requested that the design of certain House Types and the apartment block needed to be amended/improved. The developer has made changes (in consultation with officers) to the design of the individual house types with properties now being more bespoke to the site as well as to their local environment, taking on board elements from properties within the Horsforth area.
“This has further enhanced the three ‘character areas’ described above, which is considered to be an improvement upon the previous layout and design.
“In addition, the applicant has provided further information on specific elements of the proposal as requested by Members.
“Officers remain satisfied that the proposal is compliant with policy and guidance in relation to these elements in light of the further detail provided. In light of the above, the development is considered acceptable and approval is recommended.”
The recommendations come despite numerous objection comments from local residents and organisations.
A letter from Horsforth Civic Society received in February stated:
“In the society’s view the new layout and house / apartment designs are uninspiring and create another ‘little boxes’ environment, similar to other local intense developments. The opportunity to introduce innovative and forward thinking new design is not being taken here.
“This is a very important site to those who live in Horsforth and enjoy the openness of the area and the visual and recreational benefits of it. Please, plans panel, do not allow your hunger for satisfaction of affordable housing targets blind you to the fact that Green Belt is being permanently lost here.”
The council’s City Plans Panel will meet on Thursday, April 8 to discuss the plans.