To consider a report by the Chief Planning Officer which sets out details of an application which seeks the demolition of all existing buildings and structures and the erection of a series of inter-linked townhouse blocks (3 - 6 storey’s in Height) for student accommodation use (Sui generis), alongside landscaping, access and various associated highway and public realm works at Oak House, 94 Park Lane, Woodhouse, Leeds, LS3 1EL
The Chief Planning Officer submitted a report which set out details of an application which sought the demolition of all existing buildings and structures and the erection of a series of inter-linked townhouse blocks (3 - 6 storeys in height) for student accommodation use (Sui generis) alongside landscaping, access and various associated highway and public realm works at Oak House, 94 Park Lane, Woodhouse, Leeds, LS3 1EL.
Members visited the site prior to the meeting. Site photographs and plans were displayed and referred to throughout the discussion of the application.
Planning Officers addressed the Panel, speaking in detail about the proposal and highlighted the following:
· Site/ location/context
· Listed Buildings in close proximity
· The proposed development is located on a sloping site
· The existing building and 2 storey car park on site would be demolished
· The proposal is to construct a building 3 and 6 storeys in height containing 188 student bed-spaces: 9 x studio flats and 179 cluster bedrooms.
· Communal space provided at ground floor level (200sqm)
· Small communal external courtyard space provided at first floor level
· Secured cycle and refuse storage area together with plant rooms all located at ground floor level.
· The building will be designed along a thin linear footprint set out along the inside bend of the road as it curves to the north.
· The scheme required the realignment of a part of the retaining wall at the rear which also requires the loss of one tree.
· Materials – red brick with different shades to accentuate the feel of separate townhouses and reflect the historic nature of the nearby Conservation Area.
· Proposed green wall
Members raised the following questions to officers:
· Would the green wall provide any benefits in its current proposed location as part of the development
· Why was there no further provision of greenery and greenspace proposed as part of the development, given the Climate Change Emergency and Council’s 2020 carbon reduction target.
· What was the size of the bedroom for the cluster flats
· Hanover Avenue footpath was sub-standard, could the footpath be widened
· There was a proposal to remove greenspace, what was the size of this greenspace as a percentage (%)
· What does the concept of a metal roof entail
In responding to the issues raised, Planning Officers said:
· The Principal Officer (Planning & Sustainable Development) suggested that the green façade would offer visual benefits but the isolated location of the green wall here would mean it would have only a localised benefit in terms of air quality and cooling.
· The Planning Officer confirmed that there would be amenity value from the green wall via students using the nearby open space as a terrace and views of the green façade seen from certain surrounding area vantage points, including Hanover Square.
· Other proposed planting areas around the development site were confirmed, but with the restriction of the retaining wall and bank to the frontage creating some difficulties in terms of the space for wider planting and greenspace provision.
· The cluster flat bedrooms would have a size of 13 sqm and the studio rooms will be an average of 22 sqm. Cluster flats would also have shared living space ranging between 21-35 sqm. The provision was in accordance with the aims of Council Policy H9.
· The Transport Development Services Manager (City Development) confirmed that a 2-metre wide footway on Hanover Avenue had been considered but would not be deliverable. However, a build-out of the highway and safe crossing point on the opposing side to Hanover Avenue had been achieved as part of the proposal.
· The extension to the existing building floorspace involves an ‘encroachment’ of approximately 9-10m into the grass bank area. This also involved encroachment into the existing grass bank involving the creation of some hardstanding giving access to a new sub – station within the banked area. While this will lead to some net loss of greenspace, replacement planting was to be provided.
· Members were shown images of the proposed metal roof, which would ensure delivery of the grey roof required under the Neighbourhood Design Guide, but in a ‘stylish’ modern manner.
In offering comments Members raised the following issues:
· The majority of Members accepted the principle of student housing in this location
· In general, Members were disappointed with the building design suggesting the massing was over dominant, there was too much brickwork, the design had no redeeming features, aside from the Hanover Square elevation there was little sympathy for the surrounding existing buildings, the design should reflect that the development is in an area of transition between new build and city centre historic buildings, and overall there was a lack of impact
· Members expressed concern about the removal of greenspace and limited provision of replacement planting or ‘softening’ of the site
· One Member suggested that the green aspect should be incorporated within the building design
· There was concern around privacy issues for students occupying flats on the ground floor
· It was noted that the development was being supported by the local community
· One Member suggested that there was some concern about the number of student flats in the area and were students contributing to the local area
· Would other people be able to occupy, and would the demand exist for, the accommodation if it were not used for student housing and the demand for student housing itself had declined
· Attention needed to be given to ensure sufficient space for drop-offs and pick-ups, food deliveries, Uber and taxi waiting points etc.
· The submitted architect plans/drawings and CGI’s were un-inspiring
The Chair thanked the developers for their attendance and presentation. He said Members were clearly not supportive of the application in its present form and that further discussions were required around design, massing, use of materials and the greenspace provision.
RESOLVED – That the application be deferred for further discussions with the applicant around design, massing, use of materials and the greenspace provision.