The third and final day of the planning inquiry into the proposed development by Aspiring Communities of the Ice Pak site on Barkly Road, Beeston was taken up with a discussion of conditions, closing statements from each side and a site visit.
In discussing conditions which would be appropriate to attach to planning permission, the Inspector once again stressed that has yet to make a decision, but if he did find in Aspiring Communities’ favour he would have to set out appropriate conditions to the consent.
There was much agreement between the parties on issues such as the community use agreement, landscaping, no amplified music or call to prayers on site, phasing of work and hours of operation and hours of construction, but Bill Birch for Save Our Beeston asked the Inspector to consider later opening times and a later start time for construction work.
Drawing on his experience of open cast mining, Bill Birch also proposed that Aspiring Communities could pay for extra resource to allow Leeds City Council to monitor work more intensely. It was explained this was unlawful as planning and building control are statutory duties of the council.
The parties disagreed over the condition on sound insulation. Aspiring Communities argued that the Council’s proposal was onerous, badly drafted, and would give less protection to nearby residents than their simpler standard condition. They also disagreed over an occupancy condition proposed by Aspiring Communities.
In his closing submission, Luke Wilcox, for Leeds City Council summed up their case:
“The proposal will, if permitted, cause unacceptable harm to residential amenity, principally through parking impact. That harm arises because of the demand for attendance at Friday prayers at the site, and the parking requirement generated by that demand, is like to exceed considerably the level of parking provided on-site. The maximum occupancy condition would be unreasonable and so cannot be imposed, and in any event would not remove the cause of the harm.”
Ian Ponter, for Aspiring Communities started his closing submission by reminding the inquiry that the scheme “seeks to establish a new community facility at no public cost that is guaranteed to be made available to the public (via a community use agreement that is assured via planning condition).”
He referred to the cross-examination of Ash Mahmood about the likelihood of more than 250 people attending Friday prayers. The figure of 250 was derived from census data for the whole of Beeston and Holbeck ward. “Mr Mahmood explained that there was no realistic expectation that all of those individuals would attend the site” he said.
He went on, “It is telling that Mr Dows (Leeds City Council) offered the view … that attendance at the site would have to reach 450 before on-street parking capacity issues became a problem. There is no evidence whatsoever that attendance at the site will approach that level (Ie 200 more than the limit proposed for Friday lunchtime).”
There was request for a partial award of costs against the Council. This related to the issue of noise. A noise assessment had not been requested by the Council during the application, but noise had been cited as an issue for the inquiry, before it was dropped by the Council just before the inquiry started.
The hearing was closed by the Inspector, who went on to visit the site accompanied by representatives from each side.
The Inspector’s decision, which will be binding on both sides, will take into account all the written evidence as well as the three days of hearing. The decision is expected to be announced within seven weeks, by mid May 2017.