Agenda item

Application - 20/03519/FU and 20/03520/LI - Demolition of the Nave and Aisles of the church, replaced with a six story extension; the Chancel, Transept and Altar areas will be retained and restored to contain 62 no. apartments. The Presbytery will also be demolished and replaced with a 5 storey apartment block of 113 no. apartments (total residential development comprising of 175 units); Other works including new access, proposed EVCP parking, cycle storage and landscaping works at Mount St Marys Church, Church Road, Richmond Hill, Leeds, LS9 8LA.

The report of the Chief Planning Officer requests Members consideration for an application to demolition of the Nave and Aisles of the church, replace with a six story extension; the Chancel, Transept and Altar areas to be retained and restored to contain 62 no. apartments. The Presbytery will also be demolished and replaced with a 5 storey apartment block of 113 no. apartments (total residential development comprising of 175 units); Other works include a new access, proposed EVCP parking, cycle storage and landscaping works at Mount St Marys Church, Church Road, Richmond Hill, Leeds, LS9 8LA.


(Report attached)


The report of the Chief Planning Officer set out an application for the demolition of the Nave and Aisles of the church, to be replaced with a six story extension; the Chancel, Transept and Altar areas to be retained and restored to contain 62 no. apartments. The Presbytery would also be demolished and replaced with a 5 storey apartment block of 113 no. apartments (total residential development comprising of 175 units); other works include a new access, proposed EVCP parking, cycle storage and landscaping works at Mount St Marys Church, Church Road, Richmond Hill, Leeds, LS9 8LA.


Slides and photographs were shown throughout the presentation by officers.


Members were informed of the following points:

  • This application had been presented as a position statement at the Panel meeting on 3rd December 2020;
  • The application site has had a number of previously approved planning permissions for the residential re-development of the site which are similar to that proposed now. None of these had been implemented and all have since expired. The last permissions expired in September 2014;
  • The building has not been occupied since 1989 and is currently in a state of disrepair;
  • The site is close to residential properties on Richmond Hill Approach and Richmond Hill Close and is close to St Mary’s School;
  • The applications proposed to redevelop the Mount St Mary’s Church (Grade ll* listed) and Presbytery (Grade ll listed) site to provide a residential development comprising of 175 apartments in two buildings, including 62 residential units within the existing and extended church, and 113 residential units within the proposed separate apartment block. The units would be 1,2 and 3 bedroom units;
  • Materials for the extension to the church were proposed to be a metal (bronze coloured) cladding system. The 5 storey, flat roofed residential block is proposed as grey/silver cladding as well as white render, buff brick;
  • Proposal for 138 cycle parking spaces, and 51 standard car parking spaces with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging, 3 disabled parking spaces with EV charging, and 2 car club spaces with EV charging are shown with vehicular access provided direct from Richmond Hill Approach;
  • The site would be landscaped with a pedestrian link to the city centre  which would see the reinstating of the existing Public Right of Way (PROW);
  • The developers proposed no contributions to affordable housing or public open space. A financial appraisal from the District Valuer was appended to the report. It was noted that previous discussions at Panel had sought for possible inclusion of a viability review clause such that contributions could be sought if the viability situation altered and this had been included in the conditions outlined within the report with a 3 phase review process proposed. The District Valuer - Brian Maguire, was in attendance at the meeting;
  • Discussions had taken place with the applicant and the Ward Members should the viability clause come into effect as to what the Ward Members would want prioritising;
  • It was noted that the housing mix proposed did not fit with the housing needs of the area. However, it was advised that if the developer was to achieve a viable and deliverable scheme the proposal for 1,2, and 3 bed apartments was the most viable option;
  • It was noted that an objector was in attendance at the meeting who had raised concerns that the new apartment block would have a significant impact on her property, located on Richmond Hill Close. Members were advised that the apartment block and the current residential properties had 18 metres between them which exceeded the  measurements stated as guidelines to ensure appropriate residential amenity. It was also noted that this distancing is the same as in the previous permissions which were approved;
  • Members were advised that the residential properties are sited to the north east of the proposed apartment block and may cause some overshadowing during the late afternoon and in early evening;
  • The PROW falls outside the application site. It was noted that the path leads into the city centre and has been in existence since 1888, it would be accessed by steep steps from the development. There are also other access points south west of the development site for disabled users.


Ms Julia McHale an objector to the application informed the Plans Panel of the following concerns that she had:

·  She had lived at her property for 32 years on Richmond Hill Close which would look onto the rear of the proposed new apartment block. She had concerns that the new block would take away her privacy and right to light and also undermine air quality;

·  She also raised concerns that the height of the proposed apartment block would cause an issue with wind. She said that this area in Richmond Hill, being located high, already suffered when it was windy;

·  Ms McHale was of the view that saving the church was a good idea, however, there was already a number of flats in Burmantofts with plans for more to be built nearby. It was her view that there was a need for more family homes in the area, creation of a neighbourhood / community and a need for more green space;

·  She said that the houses that her and her neighbours lived in did not have big windows and that the loss of light would affect residents wellbeing;

·  In addition, Ms McHale was concerned that the existing value of homes in the area would be adversely affected if the development went ahead;

·  Ms McHale said that the area does not feel like it is located on the edge of the city centre, there was a good community-feel and it was a quiet street, but she had concerns that the development would increase traffic on the road and also thereby increase night time noise;

·  She also raised concern that not only was the proposed apartment block 5 storeys high but was also the length of the church.


In response to questions from Members, Ms McHale provided the following information:

  • Flats would not enhance the area;
  • There had been no contact from the developers directly but she had voiced her opinions when able to;
  • From her property she would only be able to see a brick wall, she was of the view that a 2 storey block would be better. Her concerns were that a high building in this location would cause a wind tunnel;
  • Ms McHale said that keeping and repairing the church would mean a lot to the people of Richmond Hill;
  • She noted though that developers are not just proposing this development to ensure the church is ‘saved’, but will be making a profit and that this meant they were not providing the appropriate housing on the site (focusing on provision of apartments) as there is a wish to make money from the development.


Mark Henderson the applicant informed the Members of the following points:

  • Mount St Mary’s was a challenging site, but an important one. This area needs investment that leads back to the city centre and also so as to enable the church to be brought back into a good state of repair;
  • The site has laid dormant for several years and could be a valuable housing asset;
  • Consultation had taken place with a number of representative bodies including Historic England, LCC’s Conservation Team and Leeds Civic Trust. 
  • These consultations (and the previous presentation of the Position Statement at Panel) had raised a number of points of concern and consideration, which the applicant felt had been appropriately responded to subsequently;
  • The PROW would provide an access to the site;
  • The plans, while being similar to the two previous, successful planning permissions, had been amended a number of times and included the retention of the Chancel. He was of the view that if the proposal was not approved there would be a risk to the church which was in a bad state of repair;
  • The extension to the church has been designed to be sympathetic, but also aesthetically striking so as to reflect the church’s important focus point on the Leeds skyline;
  • Mr Henderson had noted the concerns raised by Ms McHale in relation to wind but said that they had not been asked to provide a wind study for this development.


Member’s discussions included:

  • The proposed materials to be used for the development, including reassurance that the cladding to be used was non-flammable and within current legislation;
  • Amenity distance between the development site and the residential properties;
  • Configuration of parking spaces and landscaping;
  • Amenity space for future residents of the development and efforts to ensure that the maximum amount has been provided on-site with considerable consideration going into how this can be provided, appropriately landscaped etc.;
  • Maintenance of the (approximately 2.5m high) wall between the residential properties and the proposed development;
  • Suggested that the apartment block be moved closer to the church to provide more amenity space, but balancing this against providing sufficient amenity space between the church and the new-build for residents;
  • Members raised concerns about whether any potential wind tunnel effect would arise due to the fact that the proposed apartment block would be five storeys high and set on a hill. It was felt some clarity was required on this issue in light of the minutes for the meeting held on 18th February 2021.  Members asked if a wind survey had been undertaken, but were advised that the height of the apartment block as proposed is not such that it is deemed to be a ‘tall building’ under Council policy or supplementary planning guidance. As such, this specific site did not hit the triggers for a wind survey to be undertaken.


The Panel were advised that the site would not be viable if there was instead to be built a two storey apartment block or build houses on the site as this lesser volume of residential units would not provide enough monetary profit to restore the church.


The District Valuer, Brian Maguire, explained that as part of his appraisal he had to assess the viability of the site and assess whether the valuations put forward by a developer / applicant were fair and reasonable. He had reviewed a number of scenarios which had been submitted and this was a challenging site. In every scenario proposed, the developer lost money.  It was his view that the worst case scenario would be that the developers would lose £7m and the best case would be a loss of £1m. The appraisal had been provided in consultation with other independent consultants employed by the Council, but all were in agreement that there would be significant losses in all scenarios.


It was noted that there would be a significant cost to retaining the Chancel and these were to be regarded as abnormal costs.  The creation of apartments and communal space does make the site more viable but does not sufficient to provide affordable housing or other S106 contribution costs.


Responding to a question in relation to approaching charitable organisations for contributions, the Panel were advised that organisations would not start talks until there was planning approval and construction details in place. 


Officers responded to Members questions with the following information:

  • Confirmed that the steps leading to the PROW were outside the red line boundary. It was recognised that the steps are steep and not easy to walk up. The Panel noted that there was no further work proposed to the steps. The Panel were advised that if the steps were dangerous this would be picked up by Building Control and direction would be taken from PROW to undertake remedial works;
  • Officers were of the view that there was not much scope to move the apartment block, though some thought could be given to reconfiguration of the car parking area and interspersing with landscaping so as to aid filtering and reduce the ‘sense’ of density;
  • The apartment block is not considered to be a tall building and therefore did not fit the criteria for a wind study;
  • It was noted that the species of trees and shrubs to be planted as part of the landscape would need to be selected with care so as not to impact on space and residential properties either for proposed future residents of the development OR on the other side of the wall and existing residents’ amenity;
  • Officers will make checks on who owns the wall but it was believed that it belonged to the applicant and therefore would fall (in maintenance terms) within the proposed condition relating to ongoing site maintenance / management.


RESOLVED - To defer and delegate grant of planning permission and listed building consent to the Chief Planning Officer for approval subject to the conditions specified in the report (and amendment of the same or addition of any that the Chief Planning Officer deems necessary), and the completion of a Section106 Agreement pursuant to the planning permission, which will comprise the 3 phase Viability Review Clause as specified in the report.


In addition:

  • A clause is to be added to the Sec.106 Agreement to require details of and the implementation of a delivery plan.
  • Conditions to be added to the planning permission to require details of a scheme in respect of and compliance with Core Strategy policies EN1 and EN2.
  • Officers to contact PRoW in respect of the existing steps that form part of the public footpath that is to be opened up and whether they are safe to use and who is responsible for any remedial work and maintenance.
  • Officers to seek clarification over ownership and maintenance responsibility for wall between application site and rear gardens of properties of Richmond Hill Close.
  • Cleaning of existing stone work to retained part of Church to be considered as part of restoration works.




Cllr Barry Anderson left the meeting at 15:20, the conclusion of this item.

Supporting documents: