To receive and consider the attached report of the Chief Polanning Officer regarding an application for a multi-level residential development (Class C3) with ground floor commercial units (Class E) and associated hard and soft landscaping; associated parking, bin and bike stores
The report of the Chief Planning Officer presented an application for a multi-level residential development (Class C3) with ground floor commercial units (Class E) and associated hard and soft landscaping; associated parking, bin and bike stores at a site to the South of Whitehall Road, Leeds.
Members visited the site prior to the meeting and site plans and photographs were displayed and referred to throughout the discussion of the application.
The following was highlighted in relation to the application.
· The site was a large brownfield site on a main route into the city, close to the river and railway station and part of a wider regeneration area. There had been previous permissions granted at the site.
· The Panel had received a pre-application presentation in January 2022.
· The proposals were for a mixed use development with three ground floor commercial units with residential units above. There would be landscaping and private residential landscaping at the podium level.
· There had been a financial viability appraisal carried out by the District Valuer.
· The site had been most recently used as a car park.
· There would be 500 apartments in the development which was 2 blocks linked by a first floor podium . 51% would be one bedroom, 39% 2 bedroom and 10% 3 bedroom. There would be three communal areas and landscaping improvements.
· Distances from Whitehall Waterfront were considered to be acceptable.
· There would be a total of 59 car parking spaces, 298 cycle spaces and provision of a car club bay.
· Landscaping improvements alongside Whitehall Road and the riverside and the creation of a riverside park.
· Materials to be used included red and grey brick. CGI images of the proposals were displayed.
· It was considered that the proposals would be a positive addition to a regeneration site along with landscaping improvements and the application was recommended for approval.
A resident of the Whitehall Waterfront development addressed the Panel with objections to the application. These included the following:
· The proposals would have a catastrophic effect on people’s lives and wellbeing as well as the environment.
· The proposed height was 50% higher than Whitehall Waterfront and out of proportion with other surrounding buildings.
· Guidelines required such buildings to have surrounding space.
· The daylight impact assessment was incorrect.
· The development would destroy permeability and surveillance and compromise safety and security.
· Concerns had been addressed with developers but had been largely dismissed.
· The proposals were unacceptable in their current form and had been done in the interests of maximising profit.
· The wind survey had not been carried out at balcony level.
· The proposals needed to be more spaced out, increasing light and accessibility to enhance the area.
· In response to questions, the following was discussed:
o The size and scale needed to be reduced. It was hoped that there would be more greenspace.
o The proposals would affect light and privacy for existing residents.
The applicant’s representative addressed the Panel. The following was highlighted:
· The proposals would deliver 500 high quality and sustainable new homes.
· The proposals would create new routes for pedestrians and cyclists and enhance the existing public realm.
· The proposals had taken account of previous comments from the Panel to include balconies and increase the number of 3 bedroom apartments.
· There is a minimum distance of 28 metres from Whitehall Waterfront which is higher than requirements.
· The building would not be 50% higher than Whitehall Waterfront. It would be three storeys higher which is approximate to 15 to 18%.
· The daylight and sunlight study had shown that the proposals were appropriate in terms of city centre development.
· A Wind survey had been carried out to assess the impact on the upper floor balconies.
· There had been meetings with Ward Councillors and local residents.
· The proposals were supported by the Civic Trust.
· Access had been widened at the request of residents even though they were supported by Highways.
· Although there were viability issues there was a commitment to making a Section 106 contribution towards all of the infrastructure policy asks (apart from affordable housing).
· In response to questions, the following was discussed:
o In terms of surveillance, the building was designed to provide security with well-lit active frontages. There would be a permeable façade to increase visibility and there would be full CCTV coverage.
o The spacing of the buildings would be appropriate for city centre development. There had been a significant biodiversity assessment and there would be a net gain and a significant enhancement to the riverside.
o There was adequate emergency vehicle access.
o A viability report had been submitted and evidenced by the District Valuer.
o With regard to Policy H4 and a higher percentage of one bedroom apartments, it was reported that the housing mix on this scheme needed to be site specific and what was appropriate for the city centre.
o The scale and massing of the building was deemed to be appropriate for the area.
o Daylight and sunlight analysis had been carried out and submitted with the application.
o The end use of the commercial units had not yet been finalised.
o Further consideration would be given to including a formal play area.
o A housing needs assessment had been prepared to explain the housing mix which met the demographic of the area and the build to rent model. There were three bedroom apartments and large two bedroom apartments that would be suitable for families.
o Work was still underway with regard to the materials to be used. It was proposed to use a lighter tone of grey colouring to match Wellington Place.
o The provision of additional three bedroom apartments would have an impact on viability.
o There are some living rooms at Whitehall Waterfront that would be impacted through the loss of sunlight.
o The provision of outdoor exercise equipment would be considered.
o The reasons for the viability assessment were outlined in the District Valuer report. There was also an impact due to the current economic climate and significant inflation on construction costs. The representative of the District Valuer explained the process for calculating the viability of the scheme.
In response to questions and comments from the Panel, the following was discussed:
o The report referred to the light modelling. It was inevitable that there would be some impact on existing residential properties as the site was currently cleared and empty of development. However the impact was felt appropriate within the context of the dense urban grain of a city centre setting.
o In relation to viability there had been discussion with the applicant to include a review mechanism due to potential change in construction costs and other market factors. However the applicant had advised that the review mechanism created a risk to retaining funders and instead had offered to mitigate the risk by providing an improved S106 contribution towards meeting the full infrastructure policy requirements, notwithstanding the current viability assessment.
o Diagrams of the light modelling exercise were requested.
It was suggested that the application be deferred to allow for the light modelling diagrams to be supplied; further information be provided with regard to the off site sum in terms of the greenspace policy and the proposed building materials to be used. There was also further discussion regarding the proposed massing and whether this could be reconsidered. Panel also sought legal advice on the weight to be attached to the financial viability assessment and wanted to understand the background to the current state of the “half moon” landscaped area adjacent to the river bridge. It was further noted that there had been a holding objection from the Environment Agency and an update was requested on this.
A motion to defer based on the issues suggested was moved and seconded and subsequently voted upon.
RESOLVED – That the application be deferred to allow for the following:
· Further information with regards to the calculation of the off-site greenspace contribution and why it could not be achieved on site
· Further information on the impact on daylight and sunlight to existing accommodation
· The type of materials and colours to be used
· Further legal advice on the weight to be given to the financial viability assessment of the scheme.
· The history of the landscaping on the half-moon area.
· Further discussion with the applicant regarding massing.
· An update on the position with the Environment Agency objection.