An ambitious plan to create a multi-million pound new magistrates’ court and office complex next to Bradford Crown Court has been ditched.
Bradford Council leader David Green yesterday conceded that the £58 million mixed-use Exchange Court scheme was now dead in the water.
But he welcomed a new proposal by the Council to build a custody suite beneath the existing magistrates’ court which will allow the remaining part of the former Tyrls police station to be demolished and free up the site for office and employment development.
Asked if the application meant the end to the plans to move the magistrates’ court to the car park next to the crown and county court complex in Exchange Square, Coun Green said: “The reality is, that is not going to happen. The Government, which would have had to pay for it, has indicated that the funding for the scheme is no longer available – if it was in the first place.
“We have been negotiating with the Courts Service to find a way that they can continue to run the magistrates’ court where it is, and we can develop an office and employment opportunity on the site of the old police station. We need to get the cells moved because they are blocking the development.”
The Courts Service had been involved in the design of the new cells, which would have more direct access to the courts. He added: “If planning permission is granted we hope to be on the site this summer and have the cells completed by the spring of 2015.”
He said the Homes and Communities Agency had committed £2.2m to the scheme as part of the transfer of ownership of the Tyrls site to the Council. Money had also been allocated as part of the Council’s Regional Growth Fund bid for the city centre, and he hoped there would be no extra cost.
He said: “We could spend a lot of time trying to revive the Exchange Court scheme, but that time would be better spent getting on with the job of regenerating the city centre.”
Retaining the court next to City Park would not harm its status as a tourist attraction, he said.
He said: “The magistrates’ court building has not hindered tourism if you look at the figures for people visiting and using City Park. In a perfect world you would possibly want a different type and style of building around City Park, but it has been a massive success with the buildings that are around it.”
Bradford Council’s economic development delivery manager Andy Taylor said: “The Council has submitted plans for a new custody suite and loading dock in the basement of the Magistrates Court which is the first step in the redevelopment of the Tyrls.
“The cell re-location will allow the Tyrls building to be demolished and create a site for the development of an office block that could accommodate approximately 75,000sq.ft of office space which will contribute to the Council's long-term plan for the regeneration of Bradford city centre.”
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats group, said: “Taking down the old police station is another brick in the wall in terms of rebuilding the city centre. We just need to get on with it.”
Conservative group leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said he was unaware of the project.