To consider a report by the Chief Planning Officer which sets out details of a Pre-Application Presentation for purpose built student accommodation and residential development at the former Yorkshire Post site, Wellington Street, Leeds
The Chief Planning Officer submitted a report to City Plans Panel to inform Members at an early stage of the emerging proposals for two purpose-built student residential blocks, a new build to rent residential block and associated public realm on the remainder of the former Yorkshire Post site.
Present at the meeting were:
· Tim Waring
· Sue Sparling
· Terry Shaw
Earlier in the day the Members had visited the site. Slides, photographs and CGI’s were shown throughout the presentation.
Members were provided with the following information:
· This is to be a key gateway site at the west part of the city. The developer hopes to start in 2023
· Building A would be the closest to Wellington Street, and step via two ‘shoulders’ from 13 storeys to a maximum height of 40 storeys. The building is proposed for purpose-built student accommodation and would provide 1,065 units with a mix of cluster apartments and studio apartments.
· Building B is proposed to be 30 storeys high set back 13m from the closest point to Building A. This is also proposed as purpose-built student accommodation and would provide 550 units.
· Building C is proposed as being at the southern part of the site adjacent to the River Aire and steps via two ‘shoulders’ from 12 storeys and 14 storeys to a maximum of 25 storeys in height. It is proposed that it will provide approximately 320 apartments, including roof top external amenity space.
· It is proposed that the buildings will be set in landscaped public realm which will cover two thirds of the site. This is to include:
o Connections to the external public highway, with two-way access to Wellington Street and one way access from Wellington Bridge Street
o A public square with art structures which will show the history of the site from a woollen mill and the printing of the Yorkshire Evening Post. The developer proposes to incorporate the iconic clock tower within the scheme.
o Public realm includes a riverside walk, play area, links to the Headline building and a micro forest area which will take a period of 20 years to establish but will improve oxygen levels and acoustics
o The play area will include active play and a time trial for adults.
· The material for the buildings is proposed as terracotta bricks which link to the history of the city. The design will incorporate a fold and weave on the façade, the design will address acoustic and air quality. Windows will be able to be opened.
In response to questions from Members the Panel were provided with the following information:
· The micro forest would be planted with up to 20 species of different trees known to be able to survive in the locality. The benefits that the micro forest would add were of air quality and links to the riverside walk. The micro forest would be made up of shrubs, sub tree layer, tree layer and canopy layer, a specific growing medium would be imported onto the site. The developer will work with a consultant to ensure that species of trees chosen will thrive in this locality. The micro forest would be maintained as appropriate through a legal obligation. This area would provide habitat for insects and wildlife. It was noted that the choice of species proposed should be shared with Cllr Nash.
· Members were advised that most of the units in Building B (student accommodation) were cluster flats with some studio apartments (the report was incorrect in this respect).
· With regards to the build to rent building C, it was noted that this part of the development would be managed the same as the adjacent Headline building. All apartments would be in line with the Leeds space standards. The developers could look at more family sized units, however, the 2 bed 4 person units were 74 square metres and the 3 bed 4 person units were also 74 square metres. There was therefore an option for the 2 bed 4 person units to be adapted into 3 bed units if required by the occupiers.
· There would be parking spaces for disabled residents and visitors.
· 35 wind studies had taken place to ensure safety and comfort for pedestrians through the site with facetted towers, public art structures of differing heights and trees to allow wind to flow through the development.
· Residents would have the choice of either opening windows or the use of mechanical air flow. All windows would have a grill for safety. This was part of the future proofing of the development. It was noted that as more vehicles become electric the noise and pollution from the busy roads would decrease. Noise and air quality surveys had been undertaken.
· The developers all live in Leeds and realise that the clock tower is an iconic part of Leeds and used as a well-known landmark. It is the intension to replace and maintain this feature as part of the development.
· The developers were confident that the students and non-student residents could live side by side sharing the public amenity space.
· There were concerns in relation to parking as it had been noted by the Members on their visit, there were unauthorised cars parked at the rear of the Headline building which would need to be addressed.
· It was the view that building B had a less attractive frontage, and that it could be better. However, it was recognised that this area would have fewer pedestrians passing by and the lower level would form part of the cycle and bin storage
· It was noted that some of the trees on the riverside had suffered from storm damage and would be looked at as part of this scheme.
Members comments included:
· Members welcomed the use of art structures celebrating the previous industries which had occupied this site, and how they would be used to mitigate wind flow through the development.
· This was a good application which would enhance this area.
· A thoughtful presentation which had provided a lot of answers. Particularly liked the use of trees as wind baffles.
· Like the openable windows as recognised in 10 years the noise and pollution levels would be different.
The Chair thanked the applicants for the presentation and the detailed model which had been available for Members to view.
Members were invited to offer comments on officer questions in the report.
1. Do Members support the emerging proposals in respect of the principle of student /residential development?
Members agreed with the emerging proposals.
2. Do members support the proposed emerging approach to landscaping and pedestrian connectivity?
Members were supportive of the emerging approach to landscaping and pedestrian connectivity.
3. Do members support the emerging approach to car parking provision?
Members supported this approach to car parking provision.