Plans for redevelop former Otley printing press deferred by planning chiefs

Council chiefs put their decision on plans to revive a historic former printing press in north Leeds on hold at a meeting this week.

Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel on Thursday discussed plans to convert the former Ashfield Works in Westgate, Otley, along with the surrounding site, into shops, a care home and houses.

Ashfield works (Google)

Ashfield works (Google)

But it was claimed issues around highways and car parking had not yet been addressed by the applicant, and that the scheme should ideally return to the panel within three months.

The buildings themselves date back to the mid-1800s, and one was badly damaged by two fires in 2008 and 2015, and is set to be demolished.

Proposals for the site include a three-storey, 66-bed care home, four retail units and up to three office buildings. It would also include a cafe and 128 parking spaces.

But a member of the Otley Town Partnership group claimed a proposed nearby road crossing be dangerous, and that there was no dedicated delivery point for vehicles delivering stock to shops on the site.

Tim Schofield, representing the applicant, said: “We have owned Crossley’s yard since 2005 and have been active in several regeneration schemes in the town ever since.

“The proposal will bring employment – the nursing home alone will bring 45 jobs to the area, and nursing home provision.”

He added current tenants on the site have been offered compensation packages.

Coun Denise Ragan (Lab, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) supported the plan, adding: “It’s an excellent scheme that brings the whole area into a vibrant situation. We went there this morning and it looks run down and shoddy, and this would be a vibrant addition to the town centre.”

But Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon), said that the panel should have been presented with early details of the plan before it was submitted – known as a pre-application.

He said: “The ward members want to see this site developed – we don’t want it to be derelict for another 30 years, but we want it to be a decent development.”

He added that the care home was an “off-the-shelf” design, and that traffic modelling “is still not right” for the area.

Coun Julie Heselwood (Lab, Bramley and Stanningley) said she wanted assurances that care home staff would not have to pay for their car parking.

Chairing the meeting, Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley and Stanningley) said: “We like many aspects of it, and it will make improvements to sites that are now derelict.

“I do agree with Coun Campbell that this would have benefited from a pre-application discussion.”

The panel then agreed to defer a decision to a later date, asking for applicants to address issues related to traffic and the layout of car parking.