Yorkshire Bank’s Leeds HQ could be converted into flats for 1,200 students and huge exhibition hall

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Plans to redevelop Yorkshire Bank’s Leeds headquarters into more than 1,200 student flats and an events space are set to go before a panel of planning chiefs later this week.

The site, in Merrion Way, has been the home to the financial services firm since the 1970s, but its lease is up in the coming years, and developers want to replace part of the building with two student accommodation blocks.

The rest of the site is hoped to become a “multi-use event building”.

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Earlier versions of the plans had been heard at a previous City Plans Panel meeting, and the updated proposals keep many of the same features.

On a piece of grassland opposite Leeds Arena off Clay Pit Lane, a 38-storey glass tower would include student accommodation, along with amenity space for residents.

The tower would be situated in front of the arena and is expected to hold around 720 student bed spaces.

The events space would include a main exhibition hall, a fixed event space, storage space and areas for retail and refreshments.

The latest plans for the second block, however, had previously been described as “U-shaped”, with sides facing Clay Pit Lane, Merrion Way and Brunswick Terrace.

The revised plans remove the side facing Clay Pit Lane, and reduce the length of the Merrion Way side.

As a result, the number of proposed bedrooms has reduced from 543 to 490, since the pre-application hearing for the plans in September.

The size of the events space has also been altered for the full application, as the “upper masses” of the building would be stepped towards the north-east corner.

Yorkshire Bank HQ in Merrion Way
(Image: Google Maps)

It is hoped the changes will enable a better line of sight into a landscaped site between the two blocks.

Plans had emerged in December 2020, when Leeds City Council announced a land deal – exchanging one of its own sites for half of the Yorkshire Bank building in anticipation of development in the coming years.

Yorkshire Bank is understood to hold a lease on the building until 2025, meaning no work on the events space can take place until then.

As the proposals are still at pre-application stage, no decision will be made on the plans – and a more detailed version is expected to go before panel members in the coming months for approval.

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