‘Plain’ designs for new houses in Kirkstall Road criticised for being like ‘no frills supermarket range’
The development could see 130 low-cost homes built on an old industrial site on Kirkstall Road, a short walk west of the city centre.
Work on the scheme could begin as early as next March, if it’s approved later this year as developers hope. A planning application is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.
The empty site, which sits on crossroads a stone’s throw away from the Kirkstall Road viaduct, was abandoned by the engineering conglomerate Thyssen Krupp after the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015.
But city councillors were split over the proposed appearance of the new homes, after seeing images of how they may look at a planning meeting on Thursday.
The site would feature two apartments blocks, which would include 87 flats between them, and 43 houses. All 130 units would be classed as affordable.
But despite praising the proposed architecture of the flats, Labour councillor Al Garthwaite was critical of how the houses have been designed.
She told representatives of the developers, Your Housing Group: “Just because it’s affordable, it doesn’t have to look quite as plain.
“It’s reminiscent to me of the ‘no frills’ range in the supermarket.
“I understand this is only a pre-app, and there’ll be more detail brought at a later stage.
“But are you open to adding a few more design features to what is a very plain-looking development?”
Liberal Democrat councillor Colin Campbell was also critical of the designs of the homes across the site.
He said: “Looking at the artists’ impressions there seems to be a lot of red brick and a lot of very similar red brick.
“Looking at this, there seems to be a lot of sameness, and not a lot of interest.”
Representatives for the applicants said they’d take the comments “on board” and indicated the designs could be adjusted accordingly.
But others leapt to the defence of the homes’ appearance.
Leeds City Council’s design officer, Stephen Varley, said: “Personally I understand why perhaps councillors have said what they’ve said, but this is quite a palatable scheme.
“I don’t agree it’s boring. When you look at it, it’s actually quite interesting.”
Labour councillor Caroline Gruen said: “I actually quite agree with Stephen.
“I think the sculptural quality of this is quite appropriate for the environment it’s in.”
Fellow Labour member Kayleigh Brooks also said she was “largely supportive” of the design.
“There’s echoes of the industrial past and it feels really in keeping with the area and the heritage of the area,” she said.
Planning permission was previously agreed for a separate scheme on the site in 2019, which would have seen more than 270 flats built.
That was abandoned last year however, after developers failed to agree a Section 106 deal, which dictates funding for community infrastructure near to proposed scheme.
Councillors briefly considered postponing the meeting as news broke of the Queen’s ailing health on Thursday’s lunchtime.
However, they decided to carry on as planned, though several publicly offered up their thoughts and prayers for the Royal Family.