Leeds HMO Lobby
What is a HMO?
Studentification in Leeds
Use Classes Order
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Leeds HMO Lobby
Proposed Residential Redevelopment of former Glassworks
at Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LF
Application Number 07/07439/FU
1 Leeds HMO Lobby is an association of associations,
a coalition of some two-dozen local community groups in & around
Headingley, concerned in particular with the impact on their communities
of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), and more
generally with the consequent demographic imbalance of the neighbourhood.
This latter concern motivates the Lobby's response to the Planning
Statement in support of the application for planning permission
by Parklane Properties for a proposed residential redevelopment
of the former Glassworks on Cardigan Road in Leeds.
2 Leeds HMO Lobby endorses many of the points
submitted in the Planning Statement, in particular the desirability
of using the site for housing. The Statement outlines some (not
all) of the relevant planning policies (Section 3), it makes an
evaluation of the application against the policies cited (Section
4), and it provides a sustainability assessment (Section 5). However,
the Lobby cannot concur with the conclusion in Para 5.10, that "the
development will be wholly in accordance with the stated aim of
PPS1." On the one hand, the application is in conflict with
policies not cited in the Statement, and on the other, it is not
in conformity with those which are cited. Hence, on behalf of its
member organisations (and thereby their individual resident members),
Leeds HMO Lobby opposes Application Number 07/07439/FU by Parklane
3 The essential context within which any planning
application must be evaluated is the neighbourhood within which
it is situated. In the Planning Statement, only two paragraphs consider
the site and situation of the Glassworks (paras 2.1 and 4.1), and
these provide only a most rudimentary description. They make no
reference to the over-riding characteristic of the area, which is
polarisation - or demographic imbalance. The area
is unbalanced in terms of tenure: 60% of households in Headingley
Ward were privately rented in 2001 (Census). The majority of households
are in multiple occupation: nearly 2,500 HMO licences have been
issued in Leeds, nearly all in & around Headingley (and this
excludes non-licensable HMOs). The area is demographically unbalanced:
61% were students in 2001; hence, 58% of the population was aged
20-29 (Headingley Ward, Census 2001). This also meant that the same
proportion was transient, and the same proportion was seasonal.
The Glassworks in fact lies within the most polarised area, the
quadrangle bounded by the Harrogate Railway, Royal Park Road, Woodhouse
Moor and Victoria Road, with extensions up Headingley Hill (Manors
& Richmonds) and down Cardigan Road (to the Glassworks) - here,
all 72 streets have a majority of students, and overall, students
outnumber residents by two-to-one (Census 2001). The imbalance makes
the area literally unsustainable - while the norm for schoolchildren
is 20%, here it is only 7%. At this level, it is impossible for
the community to renew itself naturally.
4 National and local planning policies recognise
the significance of imbalance.
4.1 The Planning Statement quotes para 5 of PPS1
Delivering Sustainable Development, but fails to recognise
its full significance: planning should promote sustainable development
by "ensuring that development supports existing communities
and contributes to the creation of safe, sustainable, liveable and
mixed communities with good access to jobs and key services
for all members of the community." The point is reinforced
in para 16 (not quoted): "Development plans should promote
development that creates socially inclusive communities, including
suitable mixes of housing. Plan policies should ensure
that the impact of development on the social fabric of communities
is considered and taken into account" [emphases added].
4.2 Again, the Planning Statement quotes from PPS3
Housing, for instance paras 9 and 10: the aim is "To
create sustainable, inclusive, mixed communities in all
areas ... [and] ... A mix of housing ... to support a wide
variety of households in all areas" [emphasis added]. However,
the Statement entirely omits reference to the whole section on 'Achieving
a mix of housing', comprising paras 20-24.
5 National planning policies are echoed in Leeds'
Unitary Development Plan Revised 2006 (UDPR). The section
on 'Student Housing' states: "the population overall is out
of balance and action is needed to ensure a sustainable community
[7.6.28] ... [Problems] are particularly associated with a high
concentration of student occupancy, and planning has an important
role in reducing and managing them through working to ensure that
the community as a whole is well balanced and sustainable
for the long term [7.6.29] ... the overall objective will be to
achieve a more mixed population which is inclusive and sustainable
[7.6.30] ... the Council will use its development control powers
to manage provision of additional student housing as far as possible
so as to maintain a diverse housing stock that will cater for all
sectors of the population including families [7.6.31]."
6 In the light of local circumstances on the one
hand, and of national & local policies on the other, it would
seem evident that the last thing needed on the Glassworks site is
an increase in polarisation and a diminution of community mix. Yet
this is exactly what is proposed - more renting, more multi-occupancy,
more students. The proposal is contrary to policy on mixed
7 Local planning policy also refers to purpose-built
development for students. The application is such a development,
but the Planning Statement does not refer to the relevant UDPR policies.
7.1 Para 7.6.31 of the UDPR indicates that purpose-built
development may be considered within the Area of Housing Mix - on
three conditions. These are that they "will improve the total
stock of student accommodation, relieve pressure on conventional
housing and assist in regenerating areas in decline or at risk of
decline." The application meets none of these criteria. For
the first, see para 14 below, and for the second, para 10 below.
With regard to the last, the neighbourhood is indeed an 'area in
decline' (see para 8 below). But the reason for decline is precisely
the demographic imbalance - which would be exacerbated by the proposed
7.2 Meanwhile, Policy H15A of the UDPR states:
"THE COUNCIL WILL WORK WITH THE UNIVERSITIES AND WITH ACCOMMODATION
PROVIDERS TO PROMOTE STUDENT HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS IN OTHER AREAS."
The purpose of this policy is of course to divert student demand
away from high-demand areas like Hyde Park, and towards other, low-demand
areas, in order to restore balance. Purpose-built development in
high-demand areas (like the present application) will of course
compete with developments elsewhere, outside the Area of Housing
Mix - and if permitted, will undermine their viability, and hence
the whole thrust of local; policy.
8 Local policies and national policies are very
explicit in resisting unbalanced communities. The reason is to be
found, not only in their long-term unsustainability, but also in
the immediate deterioration of local amenity. This
is especially the case in & around Headingley, in direct consequence
of demographic imbalance. This is evident locally in terms of crime,
squalor and a 'resort economy'. The Safer Leeds partnership has
identified six burglary hotspots in Leeds: the Headingley/Hyde Park
hotspot is larger than all the other five put together (it exists
because student houses offer soft targets and rich pickings). Headingley
has been identified by Encams as the filthiest ward in the city
(hence the [failed] experiment with Headingley Streetscene), and
it has the worst recycling rate (8% compared with the city average
of 24%). The local economy has followed the demands of the demographic
polarisation: there are over sixty property agencies in the Area
of Housing Mix, the city's only 24-hour licence is a few hundred
yards up the road at the Cardigan Road Co-op, and take-aways have
proliferated. In consequence, the suburb is now the most regulated
in the city: in addition to the Area of Housing Mix, it is subject
to a Cumulative Impact Policy (on pubs and take-aways), to a Designated
Public Places Order (on public drinking), to a Direction on Letting
Boards, and a Flyer Control Zone has been introduced. Meanwhile,
community engagement has collapsed - not indeed among the resident
population, but as a consequence of the dominance by the transient
population. At the last local election, Headingley Ward had the
worst turnout in the city, the only ward which fell below 20%.
9 There are good reasons therefore for the adoption
by the UDPR of Policy H15, which states that "WITHIN
THE AREA OF HOUSING MIX PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR
HOUSING INTENDED FOR OCCUPATION BY STUDENTS, OR FOR THE ALTERATION,
EXTENSION OR REDEVELOPMENT OF ACCOMMODATION CURRENTLY SO OCCUPIED,"
only on the basis of five conditions. The Planning Statement argues
(para 4.6) that the application meets all these criteria. Leeds
HMO Lobby considers that it does not.
10 The first condition of Policy
H15 is that "THE STOCK OF HOUSING ACCOMMODATION, INCLUDING
THAT AVAILABLE FOR FAMILY OCCUPATION, WOULD NOT BE UNACCEPTABLY
REDUCED IN TERMS OF QUANTITY AND VARIETY." The Statement says,
quite correctly, that strictly speaking there will be no loss -
as the development replaces a factory.
10.1 Nevertheless, the development has implications
for 'the stock available for family occupation.' These implications
are not easy to predict. (a) The Statement (para 4.6.1) argues that
"60 student flats here could lead to 60 traditional houses
being returned onto the general housing market." This is indeed
one possibility. (b) However, this is not the lesson of experience.
The initial reason for the proliferation of student housing in Headingley
was that it followed the lead set by the location of the University
of Leeds' halls of residence in this area (from Devonshire Hall
onwards). Students prefer familiar surroundings. Strikingly, the
same sequence has followed Leeds Met's development of halls in new
areas: both Kirkstall Brewery and Sugarwell Court have attracted
satellite colonies to Bramley and to Meanwood respectively. The
same is likely to happen around the Glassworks, already in one of
the most popular locations for students. A new hall here may lead
to increased pressure on remaining family housing, and further reduction
in 'the stock available for family occupation.' (c) Parklane Properties
has probably the largest portfolio of student houses in the area.
If it really anticipated reduced demand, its argument would carry
more weight if it was prepared to return some of this portfolio
"from the letting market onto the general housing market."
10.2 Two further points should be made. (a) The
fundamental problem in the area is demographic imbalance, rather
than precisely where students are housed. At best, therefore, the
development would leave this imbalance unchanged; at worst, it will
exacerbate the imbalance. (b) The presence of a hall of residence
filled with 250 students would be a major deterrent to families
who might consider moving into the area.
11 The second condition of Policy
H15 is that "THERE WOULD BE NO UNACCEPTABLE EFFECTS ON NEIGHBOURS'
LIVING CONDITIONS INCLUDING THROUGH INCREASED ACTIVITY, OR NOISE
AND DISTURBANCE, EITHER FROM THE PROPOSAL ITSELF OR COMBINED WITH
EXISTING SIMILAR ACCOMMODATION." The Statement argues that
there would be no significant effects, as there are no houses immediately
adjoining the site (para 4.6.2). This overlooks the impact of 250
students on the wider neighbourhood: the result will be 'increased
activity' by 250 more young people, unavoidably generating 'noise
and disturbance', throughout the day and night, and throughout the
week. The increased number of students in the area will also exacerbate
the decline in amenity outlined in para 8 above. (Worryingly, no
mention is made in the Statement of any plans for on-site management
of what would be a de facto large hall of residence.)
12 The third condition of Policy
H15 is that "THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF THE PROPOSAL WOULD
BE COMPATIBLE WITH THE SURROUNDING AREA." Any new building
would be an improvement on the present factory eyesore. And the
scale and character of the present proposal may well be "in
line with extant planning permission" (Planning Statement,
para 4.6.3). But this is not to say that it is compatible with the
surrounding area. The five- and six-storey proposal is entirely
out of scale with the surrounding terraces, which are predominantly
two-storey, sometimes with a third roof-storey. And the materials
and structure are entirely out of character with the brick-and-slate
materials and the fenestration and roofing of the neighbouring terraces.
13 The fourth condition of Policy
H15 is that "SATISFACTORY PROVISION WOULD BE MADE FOR CAR PARKING."
Provision is made for barely 20% of the occupants - though parking
guidelines suggest 25%. Contrary to para 4.6.4 of the Planning Statement,
either of these figures is quite inadequate, resting as they do
on out-moded assumptions about student resources. (It is worth noting
that a quarter of Leeds University's students are from public schools.)
A recent survey showed in fact that car-ownership in student houses
was two-and-a-half times the city average (Ian Richardson, An
Investigation into the Social Impacts of Students in Leeds,
University of Leeds, 2005). The development is indeed relatively
close to the University of Leeds, and it is served by public transport.
But this ignores that fact that motorists (including students) use
their cars as much for leisure purposes as for work. Excess cars
brought to the site will simply add to the congestion of neighbouring
14 The final condition of Policy
H15 is that "THE PROPOSAL WOULD IMPROVE THE QUALITY OR VARIETY
OF THE STOCK OF STUDENT HOUSING." Given that the area is saturated
with student housing, it is difficult to see how the development
would "broaden the range and choice of student housing locally"
(Planning Statement, para 4.6.5). The area is already awash, both
with HMO rooms and with purpose-built rooms. There is in fact an
over-supply of student accommodation in Leeds. At its Owners'
Briefing on 18 December 2007, Unipol Student Homes estimated
a surplus of over 4,000 rooms in Leeds, in & around Headingley.
The only way in which student housing might be diversified would
be in other areas of the city, which could be both cheaper and safer
15 Returning to national policy, again the application
fails to meet the criteria claimed. For instance, para 5.10 of the
Planning Statement says, "the development will be wholly in
accord with the stated aim of PPS1 at paragraph 23 that LPAs should
ensure the provision of sufficient, good quality, new homes
… in suitable locations … The aim should be to ensure
that everyone has the opportunity of a decent home." However
the accommodation to be provided at the Glassworks is not homes
as understood by most people. The accommodation is cluster flats,
to be occupied by students on a temporary and seasonal basis. Indeed,
such flats fall within DCLG's definition of a second home: privately-owned
accommodation that is not occupied by anyone as their main residence
[students of course go home in vacations] (DCLG, Survey
of English Housing, 2007). These flats are in fact seasonal
second homes for students, not primary homes at all. By
providing second homes instead of first homes,
the development is directly contrary to national planning policy.
16 Leeds HMO Lobby therefore draws three conclusions
regarding Parklane Properties' application for residential redevelopment
of the Glassworks.
16.1 The application is contrary to national
and local policies on mixed communities (and also to local policies
on purpose-built developments for students).
16.2 The application does not meet the criteria
for housing intended for occupation by students specified in
Policy H15 of the UDPR.
16.3 In fact, the application represents a
missed opportunity. On the one hand, it provides for a market
where there is already a surplus. On the other hand, it ignores
the city's real need, which is for family housing. As para 5.10
of the Planning Statement notes, according to PPS1, "the aim
should be to ensure that everyone has the opportunity of a decent
home." Providing for students at this location fails to meet
the needs of the local community in particular and of the city in
Dr Richard Tyler, Leeds HMO Lobby, January 2008
The planning application by Parklane Properties was considered
by Plans Panel West of Leeds City Council on 21 February 2008, and
refused. Parklane Properties appealed, and a Public Inquiry was
held on 8-10 October 2008. Leeds HMO Lobby submitted Proof
of Evidence to the Inquiry.
Leeds HMO Lobby