New development could mean jobs boost for Holbeck, Hunslet and Beeston

A planning framework to transform a scruffy piece of land to the south of Leeds city centre into a multi-million pound development featuring a hotel, up to 296 flats and office accommodation has been approved in principle.

Councillors yesterday approved initial outline plans for the site off Meadow Road, Jack Lane, Bowling Green Terrace and Trent Street.

The plans include a major hotel building which could vary in height between 18-40 storeys – potentially as high as nearby Bridgewater Place. The ambitious plans for up to ten buildings  also include shops, a multi-storey car park, public art and open space.

The scheme, submitted by Montpellier Estates Ltd, will be developed in phases over a number of years by different developers depending on the economic climate.

And planners have said that local people in City and Hunslet and Beeston and Holbeck wards could have priority for the hundreds of jobs both during construction and when the development is open. Councillors unanimously agreed that residents should benefit from training and employment initiatives connected to the development.

At the city centre plans panel meeting in Leeds Civic Hall yesterday afternoon, councillors agreed that the site, next to The Mint development, desperately needed developing, bu were initially cautious as the proposals were at outline stage and could vary in size and appearance.

Councillor Graham Latty echoed these concerns, saying he wasn’t sure what the development would look like in 10 or 15 years, but was prepared to support it. He said:

“The plans are very very outline and much of what we’re being asked to approve will have to be taken on trust. To deny the possibility of building on this site would be ridiculous – I do welcome the possibility of it being developed.”

Councillor Peter Gruen questioned whether the application was speculative or serious and was ‘anxious’ about the relationship between the different buildings if they were built in different by different developers. He added:

“In principle I am not against developing what is a scratty site into something which is usable for the city, but I’m anxious we could be opening Pandora’s box here as we don’t know what we are getting.”

Councillors also raised concerns about wind tunnel issues created by the tall hotel building. They wanted to avoid problems similar to the ones around Bridgewater Place.

Head of planning services Martin Sellens said he understood councillors’ concerns but said that each individual element of the scheme would have to come forward for detailed planning approval and that design and size would be determined at that time. Detailed plans for the first buildings on the site would dictate the overall design.

City and Hunslet councillor Elizabeth Nash also supported the application.

Wind studies would be carried out before plans for the major development were submitted and a plinth at the bottom of the building would help disperse any wind tunnel problems.

Councillors unanimously supported the plans for the site, which currently houses a car park and Halfords.