The report of the Chief Planning Officer sets out a position statement for demolition of existing industrial buildings, repair and retention of existing boundary wall, and redevelopment of site with five multi-storey apartment blocks providing 371 dwellings (comprising 132 x 1 - beds, 198 x 2 beds and 41 x 3 beds) with associated ancillary community facilities; children's play area, public and private open spaces; basement under – croft and surface level car parking: landscaping; upgrading of vehicular and pedestrian accesses off Buslingthorpe lane; internal roads and footpaths; and other infrastructure, at Hilltop Works, Buslingthorpe Lane, Leeds, LS7 2DB.
The report of the Chief Planning Officer set out a position statement to inform Members of a proposal for the demolition of industrial buildings, repair and retention of existing boundary wall, and redevelopment of the site with five multi-storey apartments blocks providing 371 dwellings with associated ancillary community facilities at Hilltop Works, Bustlingthorpe Lane, Leeds, LS7 2DB.
Members had attended a site visit earlier in the day. Slides and photographs were shown at the meeting.
Members were informed of the following points:
· The site has been largely vacant for a significant number of years and has fallen into disrepair. A small section of the site at the eastern end is still in economic use as a car repair garage. Members were advised that this a small proportion of the site and it is considered that to develop this site would be beneficial to the wider area and the Conservation Area in particular.
· The proposal had originally been for 449 units but has since been reduced to 371 units comprising of:
o 132 x 1 bed units
o 198 x 2 bed units; and
o 41 x 3 bed units
· The scheme proposes a children’s play area, public and private open space, basement under-croft and surface level car parking, landscaping, upgrading of vehicular and pedestrian access off Buslingthorpe Lane, internal roads and footpaths.
· The proposal is for a series of 5 blocks of units:
o Blocks A and B to be 10 storeys stepping down to 6 storeys towards the Eastern boundary
o Block C and D to 8 storeys with Block D stepping down to 7 storeys to the east
o Block E to be 6 storeys
· Two access points to the site are proposed. Surface car parking has been minimised by providing basement car parking facilities that will span the underneath of the blocks. Bike storage and bin storage will also be provided in the basement area.
· The proposal is to retain the high stone wall on the Buslingthorpe Lane frontage and rebuild the chimney to its original full height. Members were advised that some of the proposed apartments would be 5-10 metres from the wall, therefore, it was proposed that openings would be retained within the wall and railings added to let in light.
· Aside from the heritage assets referenced above, to demolish all buildings on site including the original Hilltop Mill Building and the cottages to the western end of the site.
· All blocks to house PV cells on the roofs and the reduced height blocks have provision for useable amenity space on the roofs.
Seth Williams and Gerald Jennings attended the meeting on behalf of the applicant and provided the Panel with the following information:
· The developers have engaged fully with the community and ward members and undertaken a substantial amount of consultation, including holding public exhibitions. This consultation has helped in drawing up the proposed scheme.
· This is a derelict brownfield site which is in a rundown condition. It provides significant opportunity for development which could benefit the wider community and the conservation area.
· Information shows that there is demand for a housing mix of 1,2,3, bed units in this location
· The site is located in an elevated position with greenery in the background. The design would reflect key views and was intended to not interfere with the surroundings.
· The proposals include a play area and informal landscaping.
· To future proof the site energy efficiency has been looked at with the proposals for solar panels, electric charging points and infrastructure to link to the District Heating Network in future.
· The developers would retain some of the heritage assets including the chimney and the boundary wall, they would also maintain these assets. This is estimated at a cost of £1m.
· There was an acknowledgement that concerns had been expressed on a number of points, including highways access, viability, scale and the provision of amenity space. However, this was to be balanced against ensuring development of the site to bring about regeneration and enhancement after the long period during which the site has been empty.
Responding to questions from Members, the Panel were provided with further information:
· The District Valuer was in attendance at the meeting and provided information in relation to the viability appraisal summarised in the submitted report. It was noted that 4 different scenarios had been considered when assessing the viability of the site. This scenario was considered to be the best.
· Members were advised that 7% profit would be a challenge. However, the developers were committed to retaining the heritage assets of the site as far as possible and as already outlined.
· Members had wondered why town houses had not been proposed in this location. They were informed that this had not been considered for this location. The topography and sustainable location meant the site was most conducive to apartments.
· It was noted that the proposed scheme did include 41 x 3 bedroom apartments and that there were proposals for larger 2 bedroom 4 person units.
· There was no objection to a ‘claw back’ mechanism if the site proved to be more profitable than expected.
· The developers had looked at energy efficient savings including electric charging points, heating systems, solar panels. The suggestion of e-bikes was agreed to be a good idea for this site and bike storage was to be provided.
· The mill building and the cottages were thought to be in such poor condition that it would take considerable amounts of money to restore.
· Access points are restricted due to visibility issues.
· The chimney would be restored to its original height and would be a landmark feature. It was noted that Heritage England had not been consulted yet regarding the viability appraisal.
· Members were advised that the location of the play area and the amenity space in the central location were still open to discussion and suggestions. Members were of the view that any play area should have good quality equipment and allow children to use their imagination. Members were advised that consultation had been undertaken with the wider community on the amenity space, discussion had also been had with Meanwood Valley Urban Farm. It was noted that the play area and the central amenity space would not be enclosed and could be used by the wider community. The inclusion of playspace had arisen as a result of public suggestion during consultation.
· Only the roof space would provide private amenity space for the residents. The roof space would be planted to enhance the space.
· Members raised concerns that the design of the scheme was not welcoming to look at. The developers were of the view that the chimney in the central location was a character feature and the separation between the blocks opened up the area to the greenery beyond.
· Members raised concerns that one of the blocks was sited too close to the boundary wall which was to be retained. They were of the view that this would block light from the apartments. The Panel were advised that the boundary wall. although a significant height, would be restored with openings and railings at the points close to the apartments to allow an open view from the apartments. It was noted that this could be done without impact on the heritage asset.
· Members were advised by the District Valuer of market value for the development as:
o 1 Bedroom 1 person apartment at £72,000
o 1 Bedroom 2 person apartment at £178,000
o 2 Bedroom 3 person apartment at £200,000
o 2 Bedroom 4 person apartment at £230,000
o 3 Bedroom 4 person apartment at £261,000
o 3 Bedroom 5 person apartment at £296,000
· The developers agreed to consider suggestions of greening amenity space with green walls, fruit trees, edible gardens.
· The developers also agreed to consider reusing some of the materials from the old mill and cottage buildings which were to be demolished but confirmed that it would not be possible or cost-effective to refurbish these historic elements of the site.
· A daylight assessment had been undertaken to ensure that the amenity space provided the residents with daylight as set out in guidance.
· 294 parking spaces would be provided as agreed as sufficient with Highways Officers. It was noted that the developers would contribute to traffic regulation orders on Scott Hall Drive to avoid overspill parking from the development.
· The Panel were advised that this site had no relationship with the rest of the allocated site and there is no overarching masterplan, as the neighbouring land is under different ownership. It was noted that the developer had tried to engage with the other landowners, however, it had not been possible.
· Members noted that if the developer was to achieve market value as suggested, the site could potentially make £75m, if all the units sold. Members were of the view that if this amount was to be made affordable housing on this site should be achievable.
Members general comments included:
· Disappointment with the design, layout and massing of the scheme
· Disappointment with the lack of amenity greenspace
· Disappointment that the developers had not considered town houses in this location, as Members were of the view that this would be better as they were not in a city centre location and would provide more private amenity space, and suit families better.
In offering comments on the officers’ questions in the report:
1: Do Members agree that the form of the proposed development being wholly apartments is an acceptable form of development?
Members had concerns about the scale and massing of the proposed blocks and considered that the applicant should investigate whether housing could be provided on the site.
2: Do Members agree that the housing mix should be justified by the applicant prior to final determination by the submission of up-to-date evidence for the proposed housing mix and a housing needs assessment?
3: Do Members have any comments with regards to the over provision of M4(3) standard units but there being a lack of 3 Bed units provided to the necessary accessibility standards?
Members welcomed the provision of accessible housing but considered that M4(3) units should include 3 bed units.
4: What are Members views on the form, level and nature of Green Space and Private Amenity space?
More information required in respect of amount of greenspace, accessibility, topography, and landscaping. Further details in respect of the nature and location of planting were requested. It was also requested that cross-sections be provided to show how the nature of the open space and how any buildings would relate to it.
Members also requested further information in respect of the play space and how that was to be laid out.
5: Do Members support the request by officers that the development is “future proofed” sufficiently in relation to the District Heating Network and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) provision?
Agreed and applicant confirmed that the scheme would be future proofed.
6: Do Members support the pursuing of the concerns of Highways colleagues in respect of the provision of EVCP in accordance with the SPD?
7: Having regard to the impact on the character and appearance of the Buslingthorpe Conservation Area Members opinions requested with specific, but not exclusive, regard to:
•Is there sufficient justification for the demise of the two historic assets, Hill Top Works Mill building and the cottages to the western end of the site?
•Is there sufficient justification for the quantum of development now proposed with the associated compromises in other policy areas?
Concerns were expressed about the scale and massing of the development and the impact that this would have on the character and appearance of the conservation area. Concerns were also raised about the proposed materials for the top floor of blocks A, B and E.
No concerns raised in respect of the treatment of the boundary wall to Buslingthorpe Lane. Members also welcomed the retention and extension of the chimney but asked whether the design of the scheme could be amended to make it more visible from Buslingthorpe Road.
No concerns were raised in respect of the loss of the mill buildings.
To investigate the scope for the re-using of materials from the existing structures to be demolished and how these could be incorporated into the scheme.
Members raised the matter of whether an alternative form of development in the form of housing, or including housing, could improve viability. If so, this may enable the retention and re-use of the cottages. It was also considered that a housing scheme, or that includes a mix of housing and apartments may be more appropriate for this location within the conservation area.
Members also raised concerns about how this development may fit the development of the remainder of the wider SAP (Site Allocation Plan) housing allocation. It was requested that a masterplan be provided.
8: Do Members wish to comment on the package of contributions mentioned at Paragraph 36 in full (with summarised highlights above)?
No concerns were raised in that regard.
It was considered that sufficient parking should be provided on site to serve the needs of the development. It was noted that opportunities for on-street parking along Buslingthorpe Lane were extremely limited and would cause highway safety issues.
Members also requested that consideration be given to the provision of communal e-bikes in lieu of a metro-card contribution, as well as a clawback mechanism drafted within the Sec. 106 Agreement if the site proved to be more profitable than currently envisaged.
9: Are Members satisfied that the “worst case scenario” for the relationship of windows between Block A and Block B as discussed above is acceptable?
Members requested further information to help them form a view on this issue. It was suggested that cross-sections be provided to show the relationship between the block and between the flats at the lower levels.
10: Do Members have any comments on the above-mentioned summary of the necessary contributions as a result of the development?
Members did not feel it was appropriate to comment on this aspect considering the further work that needed to be undertaken. Members requested that the use of viability review and claw back clauses in the Sec.106 Agreement be investigated regarding greenspace contributions.
RESOLVED – To note the content of the report and provide views in relation to the questions posed in the submitted report to aid the progression of the application.
Cllr G Almass left the meeting at 15:05 during this item.