New Arena acts as spur to city redevelopment

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PROPOSALS for a hotel and restaurant close to the site of the under-construction Leeds Arena look set to be given the go-ahead next week.

Plans for the 178-bedroom hotel have been finalised and submitted following months of talks between city council planners and the developer.

The site is a vacant plot of brownfield land at the junction of Calverley Street and Portland Way.

The area was cleared of redundant educational buildings during 2007 and 2008 and is presently surrounded by hoardings.

The development site is close to the Grade II* listed Civic Hall, Leeds Metropolitan University’s Rosebowl bulding and Leeds General Infirmary.

Council planners have backed the proposal and councillors are due to meet next Thursday to discuss it further.

A council report says the plan should be delegated to the chief planning officer for approval.

The report says the proposed building will fit in well with its surroundings.

The building itself will have a linear form and will be about 67 metres long and 15 metres wide. There would be seven levels of hotel rooms with rooms on both sides of a central corridor.

It will be almost as high as the Civic Hall.

The lowest level of the building would accommodate a restaurant with access close to the junction of Portland Way and Calverley Street.

The restaurant would cover around half of the ‘footprint’ of the overall building, according to the planning report.

“The overall form (of the proposed building) responds to both its setting and its use,” the report notes.

“A simple, rectangular block suits both the typical hotel bedroom layout and the arrangement of buildings within the city campus.”

Planners have ruled that the height of the proposed building should fit in well with the nearby Civic Hall.

“The height of the main building is commensurate with the Civic Hall, the main body of the hotel building being almost equivalent in height to the ridge level of the Civic Hall.”

Planning chiefs and members of conservation group Leeds Civic Trust are keen that the hotel is built with materials which fit in with the area.

The developer wants to use reconstituted Portland stone as the main external facing material around the building.

The developer says that this material has been used extensively across the UK and Europe and looks very similar to normal Portland stone.

Planning officers believe that this type of stone should be acceptable provided that samples are provided, together with assurances regarding the weathering properties of the material.

No on-site parking is proposed but there are a number of car parks nearby.

The development includes plans to improve existing footpaths and there will be cycle parking for staff and guests.

The existing bus stop on Portland Way will be improved with the addition of a new bus shelter and the provision of an information screen on bus times.

The developer will be expected to contribute almost £44,000 towards public transport improvements.

The proposals have the backing of members of the Leeds Civic Trust.

The Trust’s Kevin Grady said: “The Trust is supporting this application, for what is one of four new hotels planned close to the new Leeds Arena. While this is not dazzling architecture, the design has improved in the consultation phase. It is yet another very welcome example of how the new arena is revitalising the northern edge of the city centre.”

Members of the city centre plans panel will meet at the Civic Hall on May 10 to discuss the proposals.