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.
- The revised plans are for a student tower block with 7 storeys facing Burley Street and 5 storeys facing Park Lane. A building of this height and bulk would dominate neighbouring properties, including the adjacent electricity sub-station and two story terraced housing on the other side of Park Lane.
- 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 tiny site going right up to the pavement’s edge. Mr Gillis, the planning inspector in his appeal decision5 to uphold the council’s refusal to grant planning permission for a student tower block on the former RSPCA site on nearby Cavendish Street (06/02379/RM) said, “I consider that the scale of development in the area as a whole needs very careful consideration to ensure that the design, mass and density of future developments avoid the shortcomings apparent in some of the existing development. I consider that insufficient attention has been given in the area generally to the impact of the close proximity of tall buildings to a street pattern originally designed for more domestic scale buildings.”
- 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,6 December 2003).
- The application is contrary to guidance contained in the Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area Planning Framework7 which states at paragraph 4.4.2 that there should be no more residential development in Area 4 (City Heights) because there has already been so much (approximately 4,000 student flats).
- Pedestrian access via Park Lane would encourage taxis to use the Park Lane entrance as a pick up point, which would disturb the residents of Kendal Rise and Kendal Walk.
- Taxis picking up and dropping off at the Park Lane entrance would block Park Lane to other road users.
- Vehicular access to the building on Park Lane is immediately adjacent to the blind corner which forms the junction of Park Lane with Belle Vue Road and so would be extremely dangerous.
- The proposed development would increase the number of vehicles visiting the area. The surrounding roads immediately adjacent to the proposed development are already very dangerous without adding to the problem in this way. Appendix 2 of the Transport Statement 8 states that the number of accidents was 2 in 2011, 4 in 2012, 7 in 2013, 2 in 2014 and 4 in 2016. The figure for 2014 is for just seven months of the year.
- Because of its height, prominence, proximity to and lack of sympathy for Belle Vue Road and the two storey terraced houses on Kendal Walk and Kendal Rise, the development would be detrimental to the visual amenity and character of the area. With regards to height, the Inspector said when deciding the RSPCA appeal, “While it is argued that the proposed development follows council guidance, I do not consider that such guidance intends that all future developments should attain the maximum heights indicated.”
- 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 Belle Vue Road and the two storey terraced houses on Kendal Walk and Kendal Rise. It would also dominate the lower floors of Sentinel Towers.
- The building is out of harmony with the adjacent residential area by being taller than the terraced houses, and by having a flat roof. Even the electricity sub-station next door to the proposed development was given a pitched roof to blend in with the nearby terraced houses.
- The proposed development would have windows opening onto Park Lane. There can be no question that music would blare from some of these windows just as it does from the windows of the nearby Concept Place student block. This would disturb the residents of Kendal Walk and Kendal Rise.
- The building would block sunlight to the terraced houses on Kendal Walk and light to flats on the lower floors of Sentinel Towers. The inspector in the RSPCA appeal decision expressed concern about the adverse effect of the proximity of what was proposed for the RSPC site on living conditions in neighbouring dwellings. He said it would deprive them of sunlight, daylight and privacy.
- The proposed development would begin where the narrow pavement ends. This would create the same effect that the inspector in the RSPCA appeal decision warned against, “the proposed building would create a sense of over-dominance for pedestrian users”.
- The proposed development would be too close to other tall buildings. This could create wind funneling problems, which is something that inspector in the RSPCA appeal case expressed concern about saying that wind eddies “would add to the discomfort of pedestrians in the area.” The applicant’s wind assessment9 admits that the building is likely to make the area windier. The area has already become windier as a result of the other tall buildings that have been built, and for which no wind assessment was carried out. According to the wind assessment, “Only in extreme gales will there be difficult conditions for pedestrians.” This is an admission that lives could be put at risk should this development go ahead.
- Table 4.3.2 on page 11 of the Draft Site Allocations Plan10 states that 46 Burley Street has the capacity for 48 flats. But the revised proposal is for 87 flats. This is almost twice the number recommended in the Draft Site Allocations Plan.
- The original building faced onto Park Lane, whereas the proposed building would face onto Burley Street. Whilst the entire block is utilitarian in appearance, no attempt has been made to make the Park Lane elevation a pleasing one for the residents of Kendal Walk to look out onto. Neither would the proposed building enhance Belle Vue Road.
- Belle Vue Road acquired its name from the beautiful views it provides across the Aire Valley. These important views would be blocked by the proposed development. According to Neighbourhoods for Living, important views should be preserved.
- The retail unit which forms part of the revised plans would attract vehicles which would park on Park Lane, Burley Street, Rutland Street and other nearby roads. These would create a nuisance for existing residents and road users. In recognition of the problems that retail units would cause in the “ City Heights” area, paragraph 4.4.2 of the Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area Planning Framework states, “The employment uses here could be those associated with the University, i.e. knowledge based industries, education and research.” Please note that no mention is made of ‘retail.’
- Paragraph 1.2 of the applicant’s revised Retail Statement11 states, “By securing a retailer occupier of this size, the resultant capital receipts will facilitate the amendments to the scale and massing of the proposed building as requested by the Council and help deliver the redevelopment of the site.” But the revised proposal is for a building that would be even higher overall than the building originally proposed. Also, it is not the responsibility of Leeds City Council’s planning department to take into account economic considerations when deciding planning applications.
- Delegation Report dated 12th February 2015 ↩
- Decision Notice dated 16th February 2015 ↩
- Appeal Form ↩
- Appeal Decision of the 10th September 2015 ↩
- RSPCA Site Appeal Decision dated 1st August 2007 ↩
- Neighbourhoods for Living ↩
- Kirkstall Road Renaissance Area Planning Framework ↩
- Transport Statement – March 2016 ↩
- Wind Assessment ↩
- Draft Site Allocations Plan ↩
- Revised Retail Statement ↩