What’s happening to housing plans on former Kirkstall District Centre site?

2 July 2019

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Plans to build new homes on the eyesore former Kirkstall district centre site are slowly moving through the planning process since being submitted back in March.

The proposals – which have received a mixed reaction from residents – see developers Artisan want to redevelop the mostly derelict site with up to 263 homes and flexible commercial floorspace which could be used as retail, professional services or offices.

Dispatch editor John Baron looks at how the development known as Kirkstall Place is progressing through the planning process.

kirkstall district centre

The former Kirkstall District Centre site from the air. Photo: Google

Kirkstall’s clogged and congested road network holds the key as to whether housing plans in the heart of Kirkstall get the go ahead.

A council highways engineer’s report says there are a number of issues relating to the layout of the development to be addressed before the development can be considered acceptable.

Senior engineer Andrew Thickett recommends land is required from the site for an improvement to the Kirkstall Lane / Kirkstall Hill / Morris Lane junction.

The site is predicted to generate 123 two-way vehicle movements in the morning peak hour and 99 two-way vehicle
movements in the evening peak hour.

The report says the location of the site means that the traffic is distributed onto the various roads that meet at Kirkstall:

  • 51% of the movement being on the A65 to and from Leeds accessing and leaving the site via Beecroft Street, 14% is predicted to cross the river towards Wyther Lane and Leeds Bradford Road, 18% will head north on Abbey Road (5%) and Morris Lane (13%), 9% will head east on Kirkstall Lane and 8% head south on Kirkstall Hill.
  • As a result 19% of the site traffic will impact on the congested gyratory system.

The report says:

“The traffic modelling [by the developer] shows the junctions around the site including the gyratory to work within capacity, which doesn’t wholly ring true observations of the junctions. The gyratory and the Kirkstall Lane/Kirkstall Hill/Morris Lane junction both suffer from congestion at peak times.

“Queue data hasn’t been submitted to validate the models, further information on the validation of the base traffic models is required. The development will added cumulatively to the congestion at these junctions.

“A point of potential disagreement in the traffic modelling is the impact on the Kirkstall Hill / Kirkstall Lane / Morris Lane junction; the assumption is that traffic heading across the river or towards Abbey Road will use the Beecroft Street / A65 junction.

“This will be a difficult right turn for exiting traffic as is will have to turn right into two lanes that often queue back from the gyratory to the junction across a continuous stream of traffic at peak times.

“As a result more traffic from the development is likely to use Kirkstall Hill / Kirkstall Lane where traffic
lights offer a safer, more certain route. A test should be carried out of the Bridge Road / Abbey Road traffic using this route to exit the site. It is accepted that the arriving traffic from these directions is more likely to use A65 / Beecroft Street.”

The report also highlights concerns with cycle parking space,  access to electric vehicle charging points, car parking should be provided free of charge for residents and the need for control of on-street parking. Some of these issues would be achieved by adding them as conditions attached to overall planning approval.

The council’s Policy and Plans department are objecting to the lack of green space on the site. They say further justification should be provided for the deficiency of commercial floorspace, housing mix and that further information is required to demonstrate that the proposal complies with policies surrounding affordable housing and accessible housing.

Developers Artisan will need to work with the council’s planning department to resolve the issues raised in the consultations with the various council departments if planning permission is to be granted.

The plans can be viewed in full here.

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