Leeds HMO Lobby


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Leeds HMO Lobby



Representation on
Leeds Metropolitan University's
Proposed Development at Headingley Stadium

To Plans Panel West

I write on behalf of Leeds HMO Lobby to object to planning application 08/02354/FU/NW by Leeds Met University and Yorkshire County Cricket Club to demolish the existing winter shed stand, media centre and boundary wall to Kirkstall Lane, and replace it with a five-storey building for university teaching space and admin offices, new cricket facilities including changing and officials' rooms, hospitality facilities, a new media centre, replacement spectator seating and admin offices, associated landscaping and car parking off St Michael's Lane. The Lobby is an association of all the local community associations in Inner NW Leeds, concerned with residential developments in our neighbourhood. The present proposal affects us all, generally or immediately, and the Lobby opposes it on a number of grounds.

The Lobby's first objection is that we consider that what is involved in the proposal constitutes a change of use of the premises. We presume that currently the building falls within Use Class D2, as an outdoor sports and leisure use. However, the proposal entails use of the premises predominantly as a non-residential education and training centre - that is, Use Class D1. And it is our understanding that there is no permitted change between these two classes. Educational use predominates both in time and space - by which we mean that the majority of the space within the development is dedicated to educational, not sports, uses; and that the building will be used for teaching and related purposes for much longer periods of time than for sports uses. The application should therefore begin by seeking approval for change of use. The Lobby objects that it does not.

The Lobby considers that if such an application were made, it would quite rightly be refused. Leeds City Council has recognised that the concentration of HEIs in Inner NW Leeds has had a detrimental impact on the local community. It has introduced the Area of Housing Mix (UDP Policy H15) and it has established the Shared Housing Group precisely to redress this impact. Indeed, one of the objectives of the Shared Housing Action Plan (to which Leeds Met is supposed to subscribe) is to reduce the number of students in Headingley. The present proposal effectively turns parts of Headingley Stadium into a third campus, accommodating altogether some 1,000 students, right in the heart of Headingley. Leeds Met fudges the issue when it claims that overall its student numbers in Headingley are being reduced - it is conflating the Beckett's Park site with the Stadium site, when these are quite distinct. The present application introduces a thousand new students into Central Headingley. The Lobby objects to a new campus in Headingley Centre.

The impact of these students will be twofold. First of all, it will of course encourage students to seek accommodation around the Stadium in Central Headingley. There is already a severe demographic imbalance in the area (especially, but by no means only, in the Ash Road area), when national planning policy advocates mixed and balanced communities. As a result of market developments (the advent of purpose-built developments elsewhere in Leeds) there is currently the beginnings of a move towards a changing demographic, which offers a window of opportunity for re-balancing the community locally. A new HE development in the area will simply reverse this move. Such a reversal is already evident in the plans by RMP Properties in St Michael's Road to accommodate students, in consequence of existing teaching provision by Leeds Met at the Stadium. The Lobby objects to the unavoidable impact of the application on housing provision in Headingley.

Secondly, students who gravitate to the neighbourhood will of course bring their cars with them. Despite local highway policies, it is well-established that student houses have a higher level of car ownership than the city average. Students may well be exhorted not to bring cars to Leeds, especially as Headingley is well provided with public transport. But few car-owners willingly give up private transport. And in any case, students use their cars more for leisure purposes, than to travel to classes. In addition, not all students at the Stadium campus will be able to live nearby - these will need transport to classes, thereby bringing yet more cars into the neighbourhood. The Lobby objects to the unavoidable impact of the application on transport conditions in Central Headingley.

Leeds HMO Lobby supports the continuation of local, national and international sports events in Headingley. But the price that the local community is being asked to pay for the present application is too high. In the light of the objections raised by the Lobby, we ask Plans Panel West to REFUSE permission for application 08/02354/FU/NW.

Dr Richard Tyler, for Leeds HMO Lobby, 12 June 2008


Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds