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Vacant land in Leeds to be transformed into 1,400-home scheme

A major new residential development with more than 500 affordable homes will be built on brownfield land west of Leeds city centre, after plans were approved by the council on Thursday 21 April 2022.

Latimer, the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, has been given the green light to transform the vacant 13-acre riverside plot on Kirkstall Road and deliver a landmark 1,437-home scheme offering a range of housing options to local people.

The not-for-profit developer acquired the site in 2020 and will provide a total of 503 affordable homes– representing over a third of all the new homes built and far exceeding the minimum requirements set in the city.

As few as 100 homes at the site needed to be affordable under local policy rules but Latimer has increased its provision to deliver over 500. These homes will be a mix of social rent and shared ownership for local people, with the others being sold privately.

The wider Kirkstall Road scheme will provide one, two and three-bedroom apartments set across 11 blocks ranging from eight to 17 storeys in height.

There will also be 13 three-bedroom townhouses with private gardens and a dedicated new student accommodation block – featuring 355 rooms for those studying at one of the city’s four universities.

As well as provide a variety of housing options, including vital affordable homes, the finished development will transform the River Aire’s frontage and breathe new life into the ‘green corridor’ along Kirkstall Road.

Latimer’s masterplan – designed by architects Broadway Malyan – will deliver a brand-new riverside park, a river crossing and a range of creative and commercial areas to host art, cafes, a food hall, independent shops and public workspaces.

The proposals, approved by Leeds City Council’s planning committee, also include a supplementary social project to tackle local homelessness in and around the city. In partnership with charity St George’s Crypt and the council, Latimer will provide nine secure temporary accommodation units on the site for rough sleepers for around three years while the development is built.

Nearly half of the 13-acre site’s footprint will be green space while landscaped areas, including 250 new trees, will be designed to encourage social interaction and communal ‘grow your own’ planting zones.

The homes themselves will feature photovoltaic solar panels and will not use fossil fuels. There will be over 1,100 secure cycle parking spaces as well as electric car charging points for residents. New pedestrian walkways, a bridge and cycle paths will improve local connections – reducing the site’s carbon footprint and helping to keep cars off the nearby streets.

Richard Cook, Group Development Director at Clarion Housing Group, said: “We are delighted to get the green light to transform a key strategic site for Leeds which has remained undeveloped for more than 30 years. Our project will kickstart development on the Kirkstall Road corridor, creating an exemplar and sustainable mixed-use community for the city.

“We want this development to set the benchmark for new housing in Leeds, including a substantial number of affordable homes for those who need them most.”

Luke Walter, Director of Architecture at Broadway Malyan, said: “We were thrilled to work with Latimer on this project, creating an exemplar residential scheme on a key urban site for Leeds.

“We were keen to maximise the assets the site offers in our masterplan – the River Aire, proximity to the City Centre, great transport links – and to capture the site’s history as an important aspect of the design process to maintain its authenticity and make real change to the area.”

During the committee meeting, Councillor Caroline Gruen, Chair of the North and East Plans Panel, said: “This is a good scheme and an excellent use of brownfield [land] – the direction we should be going in.”

Work on the new development is expected to create around 270 site jobs during each year of the build programme, as well additional opportunities for young people. Over 100 apprenticeships and work placements are likely to be available throughout construction.

Work on the Kirkstall Road site, which will deliver an estimated £300m in social value to the city economy, will begin in summer 2022 with an expected completion date of 2029.