Oak House demolition

Demolition taking place at Oak House

Demolition is proceeding apace at Oak House in Little Woodhouse. Even though the site is within what Leeds City Council has designated as the city centre, the demolition contractors are not using a water spray to prevent dust from the demolition being dispersed into the surrounding air. This contrasts with what happened at the John Lewis site when a water spray was used to keep the dust down when contractors were demolishing the Eastgate “book-end” designed by world-renowned architect Reginald Blomfield (the Tam O’Shanter pub building). It also contrasts with what happened when contractors used a water spray whilst clearing the site for the new college situated next to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. These were also city centre sites. Unlike those sites, Oak House is adjacent to lots of residential accommodation. When the failure to use a water spray at the Oak House was reported to Leeds City Council, the council’s response was that the demolition contractors at Oak House were doing everything required to prevent dust dispersing into the surrounding air.

The Gardens, Clarendon Quarter

The Gardens, Clarendon Quarter, shown here with the cladding removed

In an article dated the 28th November 2016, the Yorkshire Evening post announced the forthcoming opening of the Clarendon Quarter on the site of the former St Michael’s College. The article reported:

“Clarendon Quarter, on St John’s Road, opens on January 7 with 261 studio apartments offered at a reduced rent for keyworkers, including nurses and those employed in retail, who earn under £30,000 a year. Phase two of the scheme, which is a conversion of St Michael’s Catholic College with some new build, will see 61 one, two and three-bedroom apartments ready for open market rental at the end of February. The site, owned by American insurance giant AIG, brings the concept of co-living to Yorkshire.”

Earlier today, I noticed that all the cladding had been removed from the section of the Clarendon Quarter known as “The Gardens.” I asked one of the workmen if this was because the cladding was flammable. He emphatically responded, “There is no flammable material on this building.” I said to him, “In that case, why is the cladding being replaced.” He said that it needed replacing to improve the building’s appearance.

The Grenfell Tower fire took place on the 14th June 2017, just a few months after the opening of The Gardens. With one bedroom flats currently on offer there at £895 per month, and three bedroom flats on offer at £1,495 per month, it’s as well that the cladding used wasn’t flammable. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for the flat owners to rent out their flats.

Councillor Abigail Marshall-Katung

Councillor Abigail Marshall-Katung (Labour). Image courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers

Councillor Abigail Marshal-Katung shown here smiling after having been elected councillor for Little London and Woodhouse ward. Councillor Marshall-Katung is one of the councillors on the Licensing Sub-Committee who decided to allow a mega Wetherspoons to operate from the Elinor Lupton Centre on Headingley Hill. Councillor Marshall-Katung represents Little London and Woodhouse ward.

Wetherspoons given permission to open in Headingley

The Elinor Lupton Centre pictured here in better days

Even though planning permission to alter the building was granted last year, permission was still required to operate the building as licensed premises before it could open as a pub. That permission has now been granted. Councillors on the Licensing Committee made their decision in private following a hearing earlier this month. Wetherspoons have promised that participants in the Otley run will not be allowed access to the building. How this will be achieved is not clear. The councillors responsible for this decision to allow another drinking venue in Headingley, possibly the largest, were the Licensing Sub-Committee chairman Paul Wray, Abigail Marshall-Katung and Angela Wenham. You can read more about the decision in this Yorkshire Evening Post article. Headingley councillor Neil Walshaw failed to object to the application, owing, he said, to his having had norovirus.

Councillors have been misled by planning officers into agreeing to re-designate a junior rugby pitch as housing land

Willow Road Junior Rugby Pitch photographed in September 2014.

For many years, the green space just south of Burley Liberal Club was used by Queens Rugby Club as a junior rugby pitch and for pre-season training. The Club rented the land from Leeds City Council which provided £16,000 for a high wire mesh fence to surround the pitch.

The area was designated as “amenity green space” in the council’s Site Allocations Plan Publication Draft published in September 2015. But then in July 2016, a planning department report 1 persuaded the council’s Development Plan Panel to re-designate half the site as housing land. The report stated, “The site has not been in playing field use for around 9 or 10 years. The Site Allocations Plan Publication Draft proposed the site as a green space designation, but classed it as amenity green space, not playing fields. There is therefore a clear justification for the site being allocated for housing.”

In fact, the site was used by Queens Rugby Club until March this year. Up until then, the club paid the council rent of £400 annually for the use of the land. The club only stopped using the site because the council had stopped cutting the grass and because players were no longer able to access the adjacent car park.

If the council incorrectly designated the site as “amenity green space” when it should have designated the site as “outdoor sports,” this is not “clear justification” for the site being allocated for housing. The only action justified by the error is correction of the error, i.e. for the site to be re-classified as “outdoor sports.”

Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward, where the pitch is located, has only a quarter of the outdoor sports area required by the Site Allocations Plan Publications Draft. Shouldn’t planning officers therefore be trying to increase outdoor sports provision in the ward, instead of reducing it? When can we expect their “error” to be corrected?

The Site Allocations Plan Publication Draft designates large amounts of open space across the city as “amenity green space.” So it should concern us all when planning officers state that because the junior rugby pitch had been designated as “amenity green space,” it can be re-designated for housing. For it implies that planning officers treat “amenity green space” as undesignated left over space, which can be re-designated for any purpose they choose.

References

New website launched to fund playing field purchase

Chestnut Avenue Playing Field
Chestnut Avenue Playing Field

A new website has been launched where you can pledge money to try and save a 100 year old sports field in Leeds six.

The field is currently subject to a development proposal to make it into a student village for 256 students. We feel that it would be much better if the field would become a mixed used community sports facility. We are asking people to make pledges to try and combine resources to buy the field. At this point no money would be required we would only ask for donations if development on the field did not take place.

Looking ahead it is perhaps the best opportunity to save the field from future development. By clubbing together and all putting some money in to try and keep it for use of the community and for the local schools. This would also be a good place for students to do sports coaching and to develop more community sports clubs.

The judicial review as to whether this could be a student halls began on Tuesday, 10 October. We hope the developers will be unsuccessful and will be more time for people to back our initiative.

Please help us to preserve the space for sport for future generations. Anything you could give would be ideal, and any sharing of the site would be most helpful for our aims and for the future preservation of sport in Leeds six.

John Davison

Community Sports Coach.

For more info please visit:

http://hpol.hydeparkonline.co.uk

Planning Application 16/04778/FU

A planning application has been submitted to build a 130 bedroom student block on the site of the former St Anne’s Primary School in Woodhouse Square. The following images have been extracted from documents submitted by the developer with his application. Text has been added to each of the images to explain why various aspects of the design are inappropriate.
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Reasons why this planning application should be refused are as follows:

  1. The proposal is contrary to policies contained in the Core Strategy and National Planning Policy Framework that were designed to encourage a mix of occupancy types. Little Woodhouse already has a very large number of student flats
  2. Because of its height, prominence, proximity to and lack of sympathy for neighbouring properties, the development would be detrimental to the visual amenity and character of the area.
  3. Neighbourhoods for Living (page 43) requires that development should “respect what would be overlooked and overshadowed.” But because of it’s height, the building would dominate buildings on the other side of Brandon Road and back Claremont Grove.
  4. The large number of windows that would face onto Back Claremont Grove would lead to a substantial loss of privacy for the residents of Claremont Grove, and would lead to their back gardens being overlooked by a large number of new residents.
  5. The proposed building uses Mansard roofs as a means of accommodating more residents. Mansard roofs are alien to the Hanover Square and Woodhouse Square Conservation Area and would look out of place there.
  6. The proposed building would incorporate a large flat roofed block. Flat roofs are alien to the Hanover Square and Woodhouse Square Conservation Area, and would not enhance or preserve it as required by national and local planning policies.
  7. The proposed block would incorporate no new parking for the 130 student residents. A comparison of the roads in Little Woodhouse during term time and holidays shows that students own large numbers of cars. The proposed development would therefore almost certainly exacerbate the already serious parking problem in the area.
  8. Currently, students frequently have barbeques on Hanover Square, even though this is contrary to the byelaws. If the proposed development proceeds, we can be certain that there will be even more barbeques on Hanover Square. And there’s the likelihood that the increased number of students will lead to barbeques on Woodhouse Square as well.
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The Former Park Hotel, Hyde Park, Leeds

A planning application 16/02991/FU has been submitted to replace a building containing 38 student beds with a building containing 42 student beds and 9 professional beds, a total of 51 beds. The building to be demolished is the former Park Hotel at 82 Hyde Park Road.

The three following images show that the proposed building is more massive than the building it would replace, and also that it is the same height as the building higher up the hill on the other side of Hyde Park Road.

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The following two images show that whereas the existing building occupies half the site, the proposed buildings would occupy the entire site.

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Reasons why this planning application should be refused are as follows:

  1. The development is an over over-intensive use of the site by virtue of the building’s height and the fact it occupies all of a very small site going right up to the pavement’s edge.
  2. The development does not reflect the topography of the land i.e. the height of the building does not respect the principle of “stepping down the hill” (page 42 of Neighbourhoods for Living,1 December 2003).
  3. At present, taxis can pull into the car park. As the proposal requires that the car park should be built on, there would be nowhere for taxis to pull in. So they would have to park on Hyde Park Road causing an obstruction.
  4. Because of its height, prominence, proximity to and lack of sympathy for Hyde Park Road and neighbouring properties, the development would be detrimental to the visual amenity and character of the area.
  5. Neighbourhoods for Living (page 43) requires that development should “respect what would be overlooked and overshadowed.” But because of it’s height, the building would dominate Hyde Park Road Road and the neighbouring Methodist church.
  6. Page 7 of the Design and Access Statement states, “The height of the elevation facing Hyde Park Rd is very similar to the existing ridge height.” However, photos contained elsewhere in the Design and Access Statement show this statement to be incorrect
  7. Page 6 of the Design and Access Statement states, “Critically the height of the proposed building is lower than the four storey student accommodation facility opposite.” If this is true, then the accompanying diagrams establish that the difference in height can only be a matter of inches.
  8. The existing building was formerly the Park Hotel, known locally as “The Little Park” to distinguish it from the Royal Park Hotel and the Hyde Park Hotel. In White’s Directory of 1870 it is called “The Park Tavern” and is described as a beerhouse whose landlord was George Hobson. Porter’s Directory of 1872 reports that Mr Hobson was a councillor for Holbeck ward. The pub eventually came into the ownership of Melbourne Ales and passed to Tetley’s in 1960 when Melbourne’s was taken over by Tetley’s. In 1978 in a pub exchange, ownership passed to Bass. The pub was flourishing in the 1980s and would probably still be flourishing but for the increased demand for student accommodation that resulted from the Blair government greatly increasing student numbers. This former pub is the only building in the triangle of land between Woodsley Road and Hyde Park Road to survive from the mid nineteenth century. It was a pub for at least 120 years and a meeting place for the local community. It would be a tragedy to lose it now after so many years.
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References