Pre-application for 24-storey block of ‘co-living’ apartments shot down by councillors

An artist's impression of the site shown at Leeds city plans panel.
An artist's impression of the site shown at Leeds city plans panel.

Councillors in Leeds have labelled early blueprints to build two residential tower blocks as “too dense” and “lacking amenities”.

The pre-application from developers So City suggests demolishing two buildings already in Lisbon Square in Leeds City Centre, before replacing them with one 15 and one 24-storey residential building, making up a total of 242 flats.

In addition to the flats the ground floor of one of the buildings would be laid out as co-working space, with cycle storage, a café and a gym.

Architect James Elliot told the meeting the buildings and amenities would create what he dubbed a “co-living space”.

He added: “The application is to replace some existing 1980s buildings with a large, high storey dense residential scheme.

“It’s aimed at young professionals in Leeds who want everything at their fingertips.”

Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem) asked what was meant by “co-living”.

Mr Elliot responded: “It’s a new term – it’s a new way of living where everything is provided for you – your Wi-Fi is included, you have laundry facilities, you have everything at your fingertips in the building. You can get on with things without being distracted by bills.”

Chairing the meeting, Coun James McKenna (Lab) said: “It’s new to Leeds, but it doesn’t make it a bad thing.”

Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab) asked: “I am also interested in this. Does it mean that facilities are shared?”

Mr Elliot said: “You still have your kitchen, you can just work in a social work space, and there is a gym. It allows people to not have to use their cars or not leave their flats if they don’t need to.”

Coun Tom Leadley (MBI) responded: “It would be sad if everyone locked themselves in their flats and stayed on the internet all day, wouldn’t it?”

Coun Campbell told the meeting: “This is a very dense development.

“I look at that and think there is no public or amenity site on the development.

“There are odd days in the year where it’s nice, warm and sunny, and there is nowhere in this development for people to go outside and sit.

“It seems like you are trying to cram a lot onto this site with very little amenity space. If you had children you wouldn’t want to live here, because there is no space for them at all.

“I really don’t like this (application), and the more I think about it, the less I like it. The buildings are nothing special.

“If we are going to replace (the existing buildings) it needs to be something that ticks all the boxes. We want some quality and amenity associated with that.”

Coun Leadley said: “The buildings on site now do have a certain charm – a Dickensian pastiche.

“We do have to do something to encourage these creatures to come out and get some fresh air, even if it’s only two or three times a year.”

A more detailed application from applicants So City Limited is expected to be submitted in the coming months.