Sunday, June 4, 2023
HomeNewsCouncillors vote against Burley Library co-housing plan

Councillors vote against Burley Library co-housing plan

By John Baron

Plans for the city’s first London-style co-living space at the Grade II Listed Burley Library site have been refused in principle by councillors today.

Councillors on the south and west plans panel voted against the application amid concerns over the size of the apartment units.

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The plans proposed to convert the former library into a workspace for both residents of the space as well as the public, with 71 apartments aimed at young professionals created at the site.

Councillors heard that each 30-square metre apartment – which some councillors branded ‘bedsits’ – were smaller than council policy would allow and included a living area, kitchenette and bedroom.

Burley library closed
The former Burley Branch Library. Copyright Adrian Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Cllr Dan Cohen (Cons, Alwoodley) said he was concerned that rather than being ‘co-living’ with communal kitchens and shared spaces, the proposals showed self contained living spaces with cooking facilities. “I have a real concern over the size of these bedsits,” he added. “I have a real bugbear deciding substandard accommodation in this city. We are entitled to live in a decent space and not crowd into a ‘cupboard’ space.”

The proposal was presented by Parklane Group Ltd, which has experience in student and aparthotel developments. Planning permission was granted in 2019 for the redevelopment of the library for co-working spaces and 60 residential apartments. 

In previous council meetings, the proposed pricing of the facilities, which ranged from £295 to £350 a week was criticised. 

Three councillors voted against the proposal to approve the plans, amid concerns about the amount of space offered, while five abstained. In line with council procedures, planning officers will bring the application back before the panel next month with reasons for refusal. The councillors will then vote again on the recommendation to refuse.

In their report, council planning officers said that as well as bringing a listed building back into use, the proposed six-storey extension at the back of the library, “is also considered to be high quality and sympathetic to its setting.”

They added: “The building will sit comfortably to the rear of the former library building without overly dominating the setting of this building.

“Also weighing in favour of the development is the creation of residential units on a brownfield site located within the main urban area with excellent public transport links, close to public transport public services, leisure and employment opportunities.”

The concept of co-living spaces has been recently seen in London, and the plans would be the first in Leeds.

The council report goes on to say: “In assessing the case on its own merits against the existing planning policy and guidance, it is considered that the benefits of the development outweigh any conflict with planning policy. “

The property has been vacant for a number of years, with it originally opening as a library in 1926. 


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