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RENOVATION: £18m plans for 83 flats in iconic city centre building

RENOVATION: £18m plans for 83 flats in iconic city centre building

Great George Street, Image: Council Document

Plans for an £18m renovation of a former school building in Leeds city centre are set to go before council planning chiefs next week.

The site, on 2 Great George Street, is one of the city’s grandest Victorian buildings, dating back to the 1890s, and developers Priestley want to bring it back into use as dozens of flats and offices.

But not everybody supports the proposals, as historical societies have claimed the plans, which include a large glass roof terrace strays too far away from the grade II listed building’s original design.

Around 83 flats could be included in the proposals: 34 one-bed, 43 two-bed, and six three-bed, while the ground floor would also contain office space, and a residents’ gym would be included in the basement.

A council report added: “The existing 20th century entrance portal will be removed and a new entrance to the west face of the building will be created. A new three-storey glazed extension would be added to the roof top of the building for further residential accommodation and a communal roof amenity area.”

According to a summary by property specialists DVS, the renovation is expected to cost the developer around £18.25m and is likely to take 18 months to complete from start to finish.

However, both Historic England and Leeds Civic Trust have spoken out against the plans, as they believe they mean an historic building would be altered beyond a reasonable level.

A letter from Historic England states: “The proposed approach to converting the building to residential use has some welcome changes to previous iterations.

“However, the bulky rooftop extension and internal alterations will harm the significance of the listed building and the conservation area.

“Given the lack of justification and the potential for less harmful alternatives, we cannot support the proposals in their current form. Consequently, Historic England objects to the application on heritage grounds.”

Both the Ancient Monuments Society and Leeds Civic Trust also claim the proposals would do “distinctive” harm to the listed building.

A design and access statement by Priestley stated that the design, construction and selection of materials had been carefully considered, and that it would “aim to reduce the building’s impact on the environment where possible”.

It added: “Reducing carbon emissions through encouraging residents to use certain forms of transport has also been a key aspect in this scheme.”

A report by Leeds City Council recommends members of the council’s City Plans panel approve the plans in principle, on confition that the developers commit to employing local people, providing three affordable houses on site and contributing to local travel plans.

The report added: “It is considered that the proposal would result in a high quality, appropriate development. The scheme would bring active use to an important historic building and would add to the vibrancy and vitality to the area and furthering its regeneration.

“The proposals would allow important underused historic areas of the listed buildings to be brought back into use and whilst it is acknowledged that there will be some (but not substantial) harm by virtue of the extent of demolition and alterations, this is of a tolerable level when balanced against the public benefits of the regeneration of the building.”

The plans will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel on Thursday, September 30.

 

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter


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