Councillors concerned over Kirkstall housing development

kirkstall district centre
Eyesore: Kirkstall District Centre. Photo: Google

Councillors have said plans for 263 dwellings in the heart of Kirkstall ‘fall far short’ of what they expect – and have told the developer to reconsider their plans.

Members of the City Plans Panel considered a position statement on Artisan’s proposals for the former Tesco supermarket site in Kirkstall District Centre on Thursday.

Plans for the Kirkstall Place development were submitted in March, but a number of concerns have been raised locally about increased traffic congestion.

And Artisan’s negotiations with council planning officers over the scheme have reached an impasse.

Members of the City Plans panel warned Artisan that they expect the developer to make a greenspace contribution and provide more affordable housing than is currently proposed.

john illingworth kirkstall labour
Cllr John Illingworth

After the meeting, Cllr John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall), said:

“We have changed our position because the developer (Artisan) can no longer comply with the Leeds City Council Core Strategy. They will no longer make any greenspace contribution, and provide only half the expected number of affordable homes.”

The panel noted that Artisan was still expecting 19% profit on the scheme.

The panel gave council planning officers and Artisan guidance on the detailed negotiations which must now take place.

Cllr Illingworth’s spoke at the meeting on behalf of follow Kirkstall councillors Fiona Venner and Hannah Bithell. Below is his four-minute speech in full.

“… falls far short of expectations”

“I am speaking on behalf of all three Kirkstall councillors, who met with planning officers and the District Valuer and subsequently considered our position.

Pre-application discussions with councillors and community groups originally promised full compliance with the council’s core strategy. This included substantial off-site greenspace, an effective residents’ parking scheme and the full quota of affordable housing. The initial support was obtained on this basis.

The scheme now on offer falls far short of the expectations raised during the public consultation. We cannot believe that Artisan had no inkling of trouble ahead. If this was truly the case it suggests a lack of professionalism and due diligence.

“In view of the substantial changes that have now been made, we can no longer support this application.

“We consider that the original public consultation referred to a different scheme and is now worthless.

“The entire consultation should be repeated from the beginning, and the public given adequate time to learn of the changes and revise their views. We consider it highly unlikely that the scheme as presently constituted will receive much public support.

“If the applicant presses for a quick decision then the application should be refused, and the council should refuse to sell its freehold interest [in the site] to the applicant.

In reaching our decision we have considered the following factors.

  1. The present scheme is not compliant for affordable housing, yet the developer refused to meet the Kirkstall councillors, or to undertake further public consultation before seeking a Panel determination.
  2. The area of existing greenspace marked as area 5 on the plans belongs to the council. It does not form part of the application.
  3. The very small green areas … marked on the plans do not make any effective greenspace contribution.
  4. There is a considerable deficiency of greenspace within the B6157 cordon, this scheme injects several hundred additional residents into the local population, and this is the last major development site with any potential to address this problem.
  5. This scheme will generate several hundred additional car movements each day, in an area which is already saturated, and facing a substantial additional load from committed developments. There is also significant latent demand for additional parking spaces, which will lead to enforcement problems for any residents’ parking scheme. We believe that this scheme is likely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and that it will cause serious additional congestion. There are insufficient highway works in mitigation and insufficient highway contribution.
  6. It appears to us that the developer has not yet considered all the potential difficulties that might be associated with this steeply sloping site. The present viability arguments may not be the end of the matter. The present developer or a subsequent purchaser may well be back for more, so that the eventual public benefit may be even smaller than presently envisaged.
  7. We are worried by the risk that the developer may keep coming back for more. Unless there is a major improvement, restoring all the original benefits, and a planning agreement in place to rapidly implement and adhere to an agreed scheme, the present scheme should be refused planning consent.

Artisan representatives are now expected to take away the panel’s comments and guidance and adapt the scheme.

View the plans in full here.

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