Homes at Otley's former hospital 'a missed chance'

Wharfedale Observer: Councillor Colin Campbell Councillor Colin Campbell

Otley’s old hospital is to be converted into housing – despite continuing concerns over the scheme’s lack of affordable properties.

A plans panel in Leeds last week backed a recommendation that will see 61 properties, a mixture of converted flats and new-build homes, on the Newall Carr Road site.

Although keen to have the fenced-off former Wharfedale General Hospital and its grounds finally redeveloped, local politicians had opposed the proposal because it only offered to include three affordable buildings – far below the 35 per cent guideline.

Otley Town Council, stressing the need for more affordable homes in the town, had branded the issue a “deal breaker” while ward councillors had also been pushing for more.

But planning officers agreed three affordable homes were all the scheme could “viably support” so had argued for an exception to be made.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) said: “I am glad restoration will finally start on this important building which has been left to deteriorate for the last ten years.

“It is important to get the old hospital buildings back into use, but I am disappointed that the plans panel set aside its policy and agreed that only three affordable housing units should be provided on site.

“The need to provide affordable accommodation for local families is, in my opinion, paramount and I see this as a missed opportunity.”

Town council leader Councillor John Eveleigh (Lab, Ashfield) said: “We argued strongly for a greater element of affordable homes on the site and it is regrettable that our objections were overridden because it is a fact that Otley needs more affordable and social housing.

“However, we are pleased that this brown-field site is being developed and that the historic buildings on the site will be maintained.”

The proposals, which Leeds South and West Plans Panel agreed to defer and delegate on Thursday, December 5, will see the former hospital converted into 27 houses and eight flats, with 26 new homes.

As part of the conditions attached to the planning permission, the developer must submit details for approval about the listed building restoration work and materials; make a £56,173 contribution for public transport improvements and provide a £25,200 Metro Card scheme for residents.

An earlier, ‘eco-village’ proposal for the Grade II listed hospital planned to make a third of the new homes affordable.

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