Rush on to get new Elland Rd police HQ through planning – work to start in June?

New police HQ - an artist's impression

Work on a new HQ for West Yorkshire Police overlooking Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium could get under way in June this year if the planning application can be pushed through in time.

Outline planning permission for the new divisional HQ on the old Elland Road greyhound stadium site was granted in May 2010, but government approval for the business case (it’s yet another of those PFI deals) only came through towards the end of last month.

Now local councillors are being asked (at a meeting of the Council’s Plans Panel East on Thursday 5th January) to get their comments in pronto on such issues as the proposed site layout, appearance and landscaping before a final planning application is submitted.

The new four-storey HQ, which is being designed, built, financed and operated by a private sector consortium led by Interserve, will replace the Millgarth and Holbeck police stations.

Match day parking lost

The site is currently being used as a match-day car park for Leeds United home games, but by June the Championship programme will be over and the loss of 350 car parking places won’t be noticed till the end of the summer.

One of the stipulations of the outline planning deal was that the police make a £250,000 contribution towards traffic regulation (parking) orders to surrounding residential streets to be spent “as considered necessary by the Council to mitigate the loss of match day parking at the site”.

Why the rush?

It’s going to be a bit of a rush to get it all sorted as quickly as the developers/government would like, especially as a further round of “public consultation” is being squeezed in at the end of this month.

According to a document being presented to Thursday’s meeting, the current stage of the planning process – the “reserved matters approval” – needs to be in place “at the latest” by April 2012, with “financial close” on the deal set to happen in May 2012.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen if these deadlines – PFI deadlines, one presumes – aren’t met. The report just says:

“In light of the time constraints involved in the funding process which seeks to secure the planning permission by end of April 2012, Members (councillors) are asked to provide early comments regarding the proposed reserved matters submissions”.

Millgarth to cosy up to John Lewis?

Worth noting en passant that Millgarth – a classic of modern Leeds architecture – was originally earmarked for demolition by Hammerson as part of its new Eastgate shopping centre in the heart of Leeds.

But uncertainty over when the police would vacate the site (and recessional downsizing) knocked that idea on the head. So until we hear otherwise, Millgarth may still yet be standing to greet its posh new neighbour – the John Lewis anchor superstore planned by Hammerson.

You can check out details of the planning application for the new HQ here.

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