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Re-development of historic Rising Sun pub hangs in balance

21 March 2019

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The proposed re-development of a landmark Kirkstall Road pub which has suffered from floods, fire and vandalism is hanging in the balance.

Developer Mick Ackroyd wants to transform the upper floors of the Grade II Listed Rising Sun pub in Burley into apartments and restore and refurbish the ground floor as a coffee bar and lounge.

He also hopes to discard some of the outside ‘green space’ in order to provide safe access and parking.

The proposal also includes the provision of an outside seating area for the coffee bar, 20 parking spaces for customers and six spaces for residents.

But a Leeds City Council report has raised concerns over the development, which the authority says does not correspond to planning policy. The report, by principal planner Janet Howrie, says the application boundary encroaches onto the existing greenspace area on the northern and southern side of the site.

Ms Howrie supports the conversion of the building, particularly given the current poor condition of the listed building, but says there is a lack of natural greenspace in the Kirkstall ward.

She says:

“The applicant considers that the building will continue to deteriorate in condition and without the provision of the curtilage extending the external area to provide the access, parking and servicing, the refurbishment scheme cannot be achieved.

“As the application stands, the proposal cannot be supported in policy terms, however it will be a matter for the planning balance to consider whether there are exceptional reasons to justify the development which outweigh the loss of the green space.”

Last October the Environment Agency, which had previously objected to the plans – accepted slightly revised proposals from Mr Ackroyd to tackle flooding risks at the site.

And two key organisations in civic watchdog Leeds Civic Trust and Leeds Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have given their blessing to the plans – although both still hope that ultimately the building could become a pub again.

It’s still unclear when or whether the application will be brought towards councillors to consider on the south and west plans panel.

The Rising Sun was severely damaged by fire in 2013, has suffered from vandalism and drug use and its downstairs was left under several feet of water when the River Aire flooded on Boxing Day 2015.

The pub, which dates back to around 1895, has long since closed, reopening as a second-hand furniture shop in 2011.

Plans to de-list the late Victorian pub’s historic internal features and transform the building into six flats were refused by Leeds City Council planners in 2017. Planners said at the time the proposals to remove internal fittings would cause ‘substantial harm to the special character and significance of the listed interiors’.

The Grade II listed building featured on Leeds City Council’s ‘at risk’ list until it was taken off without explanation last year and has also come to the attention of civic watchdog Leeds Civic Trust, who would like to see it brought back into use.

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