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HOUSE OF FRASER FUTURE: Student accommodation plans

 

Early plans to demolish Leeds city centre’s House of Fraser building and replace it with hundreds of student flats have been revealed.

As HoF is expected not to renew its lease on the site in Briggate, developers plan on replacing it with a 10-storey building, complete with both shops and purpose-built student accommodation.

On behalf of the developers Dukelease, CEO Richard Leslie told a recent online meeting: “This might be an important shopping street that needs an injection from a new retailer, or maybe a piece of the urban realm crying out for a new approach.

“We appreciate the important civic value of Briggate and central road. I hope you see our approach is positive and worthy of support.”

His colleague David Rollinson added: “Our scheme is about a viable new use for the house of Fraser building for city centres. We realise that large format space is outmoded and we are seeking to re-purpose that large retail space.

“We want to future proof that space to allow for changing activity. The retail relates to Briggate and the student accommodation relates to central road. We are seeking to bring forward student accommodation, and it is away from existing concentration of student accommodation.

“This isn’t about an over-concentration, it is about bringing students into the area – it brings increased footfall into the city centre.”

According to a report by council officers, developers would split the accommodation between 238 bedrooms across three-eight bed clusters; and another 130 self-contained studio flats. Communal facilities would be spread across the ground floor, floor one and floor eight.

As the plan is a pre-application, no decision will be made any time soon, with more detailed blueprints expected in the coming months, but councillors were overall enthusiastic about the scheme in principle.

Commenting on the early plans, Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem) said: “It’s obvious that a lot of work has gone into this. I am relaxed about the principle. The building there at the moment is uninspiring.

“It reflects the style of the day, and that wasn’t very good.”

Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab) added: “I am concerned about the design. The front on Briggate sits very well, and all architecture should respect existing architecture.

“On Briggate, it does, but the upper two storeys does look like a bit of an afterthought. On central road, I think it looks too prominent and bulky.

“It is very near the county arcade. The buildings on the other side to respect that area. I think it needs a lighter touch.”

Coun Peter Carlill (Lab) said: “I quite like what we have seen so far, and I hope we see more of it in the full application.”

Coun David Blackburn (Green) said: “I am supportive of what has been proposed. The old Woolworths building, I won’t miss.

“We should make sure that everything we do like this is a good use of space, and that if anything outside our control changes, we can change the building’s purposes.”

Coun Graham Latty (Con) said: “I do like the principle of the building we are being shown. It’s nice to get something that you can say will fit in Leeds – it’s nice to see that sort of façade come back.”

A more detailed plan for the site is expected to be submitted in the coming months, after which, a final decision will be made on the scheme.

(LDRS | Richard Beecham)


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