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LEEDS: Latest plans for Yorkshire Bank HQ towers ‘an improvement’, meeting hears

LEEDS: Latest plans for Yorkshire Bank HQ towers ‘an improvement’, meeting hears

Planning chiefs at Leeds City Council have called early plans to redevelop the current headquarters of Yorkshire Bank “much improved”, following a presentation from planning officers.

The plans, which are still at the pre-application stage, involve redeveloping the site into more than 1,200 student flats and an events space.

The site, in Merrion Way, has been the home to the financial services firm since the 1970s, but its lease is up in the coming years, and developers want to replace part of the building with two student accommodation blocks.

The latest plans for the second block, having previously been described as “U-shaped”, with sides facing Clay Pit Lane, Merrion Way and Brunswick Terrace, remove the side facing Clay Pit Lane, and reduce the length of the Merrion Way side. As a result, the number of proposed bedrooms has reduced from 543 to 490.

The size of the events space has also been altered for the full application, as the “upper masses” of the building would be stepped towards the north-east corner.

Speaking at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel, Coun David Blackburn (Green) said: “Much improved. I still am not entirely happy with what has been proposed, but I can understand where we are coming from with it. It is going in the right direction and is allowing the arena to be seen.

“I am glad you thinking of using some of the granite from Yorkshire Bank. I am one of the councillors who thought Yorkshire Bank was actually quite an attractive building.

“I still regret the fact you have this tall building in front of the arena, but we are where we are.”

On a piece of grassland opposite Leeds Arena off Clay Pit Lane, a 38-storey glass tower would include student accommodation, along with amenity space for residents. The tower would be situated in front of the arena and is expected to hold around 720 student bed spaces.

The events space would include a main exhibition hall, a fixed event space, storage space and areas for retail and refreshments.

Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) added: “It’s shown a lot of progress – it’s really much improved.

“The mass of student blocks I am now comfortable with, and the multi events space will be an important gain for the city. I have always admired the tower.

“The arena was never meant to have a huge vista of views around it, it was always meant to be part of the urban city scape, in an area of the city where we wanted tall buildings. If you’re gonna have tall buildings in Leeds, this is the place for it.”

A full application for the site is expected to be submitted to Leeds City Council planning officers in the coming months.

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter


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