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.
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.
Community Sports Coach.
For more info please visit:
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.
Reasons why this planning application should be refused are as follows:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
The following two images show that whereas the existing building occupies half the site, the proposed buildings would occupy the entire site.
Reasons why this planning application should be refused are as follows:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Burley Place Limited has amended planning application 16/01322/FU.The amended version of the planning application is almost identical to the unamended version, except that:
- It’s being proposed to remove a small corner section of the top floor of the building facing towards Park Lane and placing it on top of the opposite end of the building thus forming an additional storey. It appears that this has been done to give the impression that the building slopes down the hill. But this impression is only given from one viewing position. This impression is created from this viewing position alone because it has the electricity sub station in the foreground, which makes the electricity sub station appear bigger than it really is in relation to the proposed student block. This viewing position is shown in the three images below. These show the building proposed by the original planning application, the earlier version of the current planning application and finally, the amended version of the current planning application. The third and final of these images also includes a number of trees. As can be seen, these did not feature in the earlier two images and presumably have been included to give the impression that the proposed student block is smaller than it really is.
- It’s being proposed to close Rutland Mount to through traffic by using railings to block the entrance to it. It’s also proposed to remove Rutland Mount’s historic stone setts and replace them by concrete pavers. Trees would be planted even though it’s doubtful that any trees would flourish hemmed in on both sides by relatively tall buildings.
The three following images illustrate the building proposed by the original planning application, the first version of the current planning application, and finally, the amended version of the current planning application. They show how each proposed block would dominate neighbouring buildings and the surrounding area.
Planning application 14/03735/FU was submitted on the 24th June 2014 by Burley Place Limited. It was for an 8 storey student block at 46 Burley Street that would have provided 128 studio flats. The proposed building would have replaced the original building on the site which had one storey facing onto Park Lane. This building was demolished by the developer in 2013 without planning permission. In October 2014 the planning application was revised bringing the number of flats down to 113 and increasing the height of the building to 9 storeys. The application was considered by the city centre plans panel on the 12th February 2015 and rejected on the grounds that (a) the living accommodation would be cramped and (b) the building would tower over neighbouring buildings and would represent an over-intensive use of the site. Officers were delegated to formally draft the reasons for refusal.1 A Decision Notice was issued on the 16th February.2 On the 27th February 2015, the applicant appealed against the decision3 (Appeal reference APP/N4720/W/15/3005747).
The appeal was heard on the 22nd July 2015. It was rejected on the 10th September 2015 because, “The design of the blade would adversely affect the character and appearance of the locality, and the development would fail to provide a satisfactory standard of comfortable living conditions for future occupiers.” 4 The “blade” was the tallest element of the proposed building. The remainder of the building was 4 storeys tall facing onto Park Lane. Now a further revised application has been submitted (application 16/01322/FU). This latest application is proposing a building that would be without the blade but which would be 5 storeys tall facing onto Park Lane. So whilst the blade itself has been removed, the height of the rest of the building has been increased to compensate. The inspector who rejected the appeal did not say that an overall taller and bulkier building would be acceptable.
Before the plans panel refused the previous planning application, councillors were warned that if they refused the application, it would be impossible for the site to be developed, and yet here we are over a year later with yet another revised planning application albeit for a development with fewer (but larger) flats than was previously proposed.
The two following images illustrate how the proposed development differs from the previous proposal and how it would dominate neighbouring buildings and the surrounding area.
There has never been an easy way of knowing whether a company is based overseas. This is because there is no UK register of overseas companies operating in the UK. But now, this has changed. Private Eye has produced an interactive map 1 which allows you to see which properties are owned by offshore companies, the name of the company, and the country the company is based in. The map shows that numerous local properties are owned offshore including:
|The Library Pub||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
|The Hyde Park Hotel||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
|The Royal Park Hotel||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
|The Dry Dock||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
|Spring Bank||Springbank Properties||Jersey|
|Samara Plaza||Prosperity Arwa||Jersey|
|The Arndale Centre||Spreit||Guernsey|
|Yates’s, Woodhouse Lane||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
|The Merchant, Woodhouse Lane||Stonegate Pubs||Cayman Islands|
Because companies have to tell the Land Registry where they’re based when they purchase property, all the necessary information is held inside the Land Registry database. Private Eye has unlocked this database by searching thousands of Land Registry entries to uncover which UK properties are owned by offshore companies. The map for our area looks like this:
So, if you take a dim view of companies operating in the UK trying to avoid paying tax,2 you might want to forego popping in for a pint the next time you pass any of the pubs listed above.
Even Castle House, the building in the city centre occupied by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, is owned by a company based in the Cayman Islands!
Planning application 14/03735/FU was submitted on the 24th June 2014 by Burley Place Limited. It was for an 8 storey student block at 46 Burley Street that would have provided 128 studio flats. In October 2014 the application was revised bringing the number of flats down to 113 and increasing the height of the building to 9 storeys. The application was considered by the city centre plans panel in the 12th February 2015 and rejected on the grounds that (a) the living accommodation would be cramped and (b) the building would tower over neighbouring buildings and would represent an over-intensive use of the site. Officers were delegated to formally draft the reasons for refusal.1 A Decision Notice was issued on the 16th February.2 On the 27th February 2015, the applicant appealed against the decision3 (Appeal reference APP/N4720/W/15/3005747).
The following images illustrate how the proposed development would dominate neighbouring buildings.
Major Errors in the Draft Site Allocations Plan show Hyde Park and Woodhouse with surplus Open Space when it actually has a deficit in all categories of Open Space
The Draft Site Allocations Plan1 contains numerous errors in its calculation of open space provision in Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward. This is a serious flaw as the amount of new housing that a ward can sustain is based on the open space provision that would be available to new residents.
Paragraph 1.2 of Leeds City Council’s Draft Site Allocations Plan states that it uses open space figures from Appendix A2 of the council’s Open Space, Sport and Recreation Assessment3 (OSSRA) published in 2011, and that it also includes some additional data.
The Draft Site Allocations Plan also states that it excludes sites that have been developed. This is incorrect as sites that have been developed have been included.
The Draft Site Allocations Plan claims that Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward has a surplus in all categories of open space except “Outdoor Sports”. But when errors within the Draft Site Allocations Plan have been corrected, Hyde Park and Woodhouse is shown to have a deficit in all categories of open space.
The map below shows the locations of several of the Hyde Park and Woodhouse sites referred to in the Draft Site Allocations Plan and also referred to in this post.
|1.||Rising Sun Public Open Space||6.||Cliff Road Greenspace (a)|
|2.||Woodhouse Moor Park||7.||Cliff Road Greenspace (b)|
|3.||Woodsley Road (Leeds Uni)||8.||Cliff Mount Fields (N6)|
|4.||Mount Preston Street (Leeds Uni)||9.||Cliff Mount Fields (N1)|
|5.||Woodhouse Lane Greenspace||10.||Allotments|
Parks and Gardens
The table below appears at paragraph 5.9 of the Draft Site Allocations Plan. The sections I’ve shaded yellow, indicate incorrect open space figures.
The re-emergence in Autumn 2013 of the inspector’s report on the Liverpool trolleybus application,1 and the secretary of state’s decision,2 showed opponents of the current Leeds trolleybus scheme that failure to replace open space is sufficient reason to recommend rejection of an application for a TWAO.
The NGT Project Board Minutes3 reveal that this major obstacle for the Leeds trolleybus scheme was already apparent to the NGT team. At paragraph 5d on page 9 of the Project Board Minutes of the 18th June 2013, it says that Mr Tom Gifford of Metro advised the group that the open space position in relation to Woodhouse Moor contravened both local and national guidance.
The local policy that would be contravened if the trolleybus were to run across Monument Moor is Policy N1 of the Leeds Unitary Development Plan.4 The policy is set out on page 53. It states that N1 protected green space has to be replaced if it’s going to be developed, unless the need in the locality can be shown to be met.
The national policy that would be contravened if the trolleybus were to run across Monument Moor is Policy 74 of the National Planning Policy Framework.5 This states that open space should not be developed unless it’s surplus to requirements, or replaced.
At paragraph 4f on page 4 of the NGT Project Board Minutes of the 16th September 2013, it states that Deputy Chief Planning Officer Stephen Speak “raised concerns that it will be difficult to designate the land on Woodhouse Moor as surplus and Kieran Preston asked how this was dealt with on the Supertram project.” Mr Preston must have forgotten that Supertram would not have run across Monument Moor.
At paragraph 4f on page 4 of the NGT Project Board Minutes of the 21st October 2013, it says that acting Chief Executive of Metro, John Henkel stated that “it is difficult to argue the case for the land being classed as surplus.” Mr Henkel was referring to the land to be appropriated on the 8th January 2014.
To get round the problem, the promoters devised four separate strategies:
- Trying to prove that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has a surplus of open space by referring at the Public Inquiry to an unpublished revised PPG17 study that forms part of the council’s Draft Site Allocations Plan.
- Trying to prove that the mitigation required by the scheme would enhance the quality of the park and in this way make up for the loss of open space.
- Arguing that Monument Moor has little landscape or historical value.
- Appropriating part of Monument Moor and declaring it to be no longer required as open space.