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Joy for campaigners as plans for student flats in Hyde Park are blocked

By Jack Goodman 

FAMILIES AND RESIDENTS in Hyde Park are celebrating after plans to build student accommodation were rejected by Leeds City Council.

For many neighbours the contentious issue was not the prospect of more students living in the area that led to complaints – but the prospect of development on a former community site.

Site of the proposed accommodation on Victoria Road.

Campaigner Sue Buckle feels the site, between Victoria Road and Chestnut Avenue, should have been used to provide a sports facility for the Hyde Park area.

“When the site was owned by the old Leeds Girls’ school, they had an agreement with local residents who could use it to play cricket and football,” she said.

“I don’t understand why it can’t continue to provide those sports facilities to the community.”

The proposed plans intended to develop accommodation for 262 students.

Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab, Headingley) expressed his relief at the rejection of the proposals.

He said: “The plan was for a large, gated student village.  It was a gross over development of the area, and the residents said they’d fight the company responsible all the way.

“The developers appealed the council’s decision of outright refusal – but the residents won.”

Coun Walshaw also said the planning inspector agreed with residents’ claims that the proposals were inappropriate for the area.

“It wasn’t an anti-student campaign,” he added.  “It’s more of an ‘anti-development in the wrong area’ campaign.

“Nobody’s going to win building a huge new student accommodation block except those making money out of it.”

However some students did express the opinion that new accommodation may be beneficial.

The decision comes following reports that over three quarters of noise complaints in the LS6 area in 2016 are attributed to student parties and loud music.

Coun Walshaw was quick to add that noise complaints are not the reason for the rejection of the site.

“It’s not always permanent residents complaining about noise, it’s often students,” he said.  “The complaints are also not always about students – but putting over 200 first year students into the area definitely won’t help that.”

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