Detailed plans for 618 flats on the former Arla Foods site on Kirkstall Road in Burley have been deferred by councillors amid concerns that the development does not have anopugh three-bedroom properties.
Developers Glenbrook Properties is hoping to build a mainly residential-led development of five blocks of apartments with commercial space at ground floor level.
The apartments are based on a ‘Build to Rent’ model, with 308 one-bedroom apartments, 248 two-bedroom units and 62 three-bedroom units. This conflicts with the council’s housing mix policy, which dictates 50 per cent of new homes built should include two bedrooms and 30 per cent should contain three.
The blocks range between seven to 12 storeys high and there would be 226 surface level car parking spaces. The proposal includes the demolition of the existing former Arla depot building which fronts the site.
But councillors on the city plans panel this afternoon criticised the over-reliance on one bedroom properties at the site, which they said was not compliant with council planning policies and called for the developer to negotiate with the council over including more three bedroom properties.
There were also concerns over the size of green space on the site, the bio-diversity net gain, the need for more balconies and the need for more affordable housing.
Cllr Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said if the council has a policy over housing mix ‘we ought to stick to it’. He added: “This has come to members because it is not policy complaint. Officers are essentially asking ‘how much short of policy are you willing to accept?’.
“I think you could do much more on this site.”
Cllr Robert Finnigan (Morley Borough Independents) also questioned the housing mix and said a business model of favouring one beds over three beds ought to be challenged.
“I am with Cllr Campbell on this,” Cllr Finnigan said. “We need to start saying that we’re not willing to accept compromise after compromise. We are building the communities of the future and we need to be in a situation where these communities are sustainable. There is a reliance on one-bedroom flats because they are making more money and an under-reliance on three-bedroom properties which aren’t being provided anywhere else. It is not policy compliant.”
Cllr Kayleigh Brooks (Lab, Woodhouse & Little London) said she was delighted to see a playground and the detailing on the balconies. But Cllr Paul Wadsworth (Cons, Guiseley & Rawdon) called for more balconies and said: “I quite like it. The development is inoffensive and nice and much better than the previous applications.”
Cllr Dan Cohen (Cons, Alwoodley) said: “The development is inoffensive but I do have a real issue with balconies. It is also not policy compliant. Officers should be far more robust when it comes to three-bedroom properties. There is a snail-paced movement towards this. We need more three bedroom properties.”
David Blackburn (Green, Farnley & Wortley) said: “It is a heck of a lot better than the previous one but we need more green space.”
Peter Carlill (Lab, Calverley & Farsley) said plans are more accessible – but were ‘at bare minimum’ although they added some benefits to the location.
The developer is now being asked to negotiate with council officers on the issues raised and return with revised proposals to a forthcoming plans panel meeting.
At a pre-application hearing in February, councillors also criticised the lack of family housing in the proposals.
A planning officer’s report recommended councillors approve the application. The report concludes: “This scheme represents an opportunity to regenerate a mostly cleared brownfield site on the southern side of Kirkstall Road.
“The proposals provide 618 residential units contributing to housing supply as well as associated employment uses, large areas of open space and connectivity to the waterfront with a new section of riverside walkway in a highly sustainable gateway location.
“It is considered that the scale, form and detailing of the proposal would enhance the character of this part of Kirkstall Road and help to deliver an identified housing need in the development plan. On balance the proposals are supported by national and local planning policy.”
Outline plans for more than 630 flats on the site from a different developer were originally approved in principle by councillors in January 2021, despite concerns on the impact of extra traffic on the already busy A65.