“We Can Build Better Prisons Than This”: Plans For New Leeds Student Halls Delayed

Members of Leeds City Council’s planning panel voted unanimously in favour of temporarily blocking the decision to build 188 new student flats on Park Lane due to criticisms of the design. The 188 bed spaces would comprise of 9 studios and 179 cluster bedrooms each with a kitchen/communal space. Councillor Peter Gruen described the proposed red-brick design as having no “redeeming features”, adding, “I’m stunned with disappointment”. 

The original design would see student flats spread across a row of blocks ranging from three to six stories in height located near Leeds city centre, a highly sought after area. However, the councillors found severe fault with the red-brick design as well as the lack of green space on, or even near, site. 

The proposed design for the student accommodation. Image source: DLA Design

Describing the proposed design for the building, Councillor Asghar Khan stated: “We can build better prisons than this”. 

I don’t like it at all. I don’t think it has any redeeming features

-Councillor Peter Gruen.

In response to their concerns, a council officer expressed that the graphic designs do not do the plans justice and naturally the project would appear different in real life. Nevertheless, Councillor Colin Campbell said that “planning panel members have to approve what’s in front of them”. Because of this, Councillor Gruen tabled a proposal to defer the application so further work could be done on improving the existing design. He said, “It needs to come back with a different design, a different massing, a different outlook”. Councillors unanimously voted in favour of Gruen’s proposal. 

The plans submitted by Maple Grove Developments and Rushbond PLC would mean the largely vacant office building on site would need to be demolished in order to build these flats. 

The site has been designed to be more eco-friendly. There are no plans for car parking spaces that students can use. Instead, there will be a secure cycle storage area for up to 94 bikes. In addition, developers are also exploring the possibility of using renewable energy sources in order to generate electricity for the accommodation. 

Main image: Pixabay