The conversion of a former cottage hospital in Bradford into family homes will give future residents the ‘wow factor’ when they first walk through the door, according to the head of a national housing body.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, visited St Catherine’s, on St Mary’s Road in Manningham, yesterday as part of a tour of properties owned by the Shipley-based Accent Group.

The £1.8 million redevelopment project, part of an £8.5 million investment programme in the Manningham area, will see the building, which had fallen into disrepair having been out of use since 1972, converted into 16 homes. The first families are set to move in from June.

Mr Orr said: “I’m really impressed. The great thing about converting a building like this is that it creates brilliant homes.

“People are going to walk through the door and get the wow factor. The project has also started a process of regeneration around the building, which is a really positive knock-on effect. Doing something like this has a real impact on the whole community, which is great.”

Accent acquired St Catherine’s when working with Bradford Primary Care Trust to build Manningham’s new health centre, which opened in 2006.

The current scheme has received funding support from the Homes and Communities Agency, English Heritage and Bradford Council, with 50 per cent of the homes to be filled via the council lettings scheme, and the other half directly through the Accent office.

Accent chief executive Gordon Perry said: “This investment is absolutely key, as strategically, Bradford, and Manningham in particular, is very important to us.

“We’ve already spent £7 million on other projects in this area, converting small flats into family homes, as that is what the demand is.

“Challenges such as the bedroom tax are making life more difficult for many people, but we’re actually finding that this area is sustainable, and that people still want and need the family homes we are providing.”

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain, was also given a tour of the site yesterday, and said he was pleased to see the building’s original features, such as a spire and stained glass windows, preserved in order to maintain its character.

Accent now has 67 flats, 37 houses and 14 maisonettes in the Manningham area, including properties in Blenheim Road and St Paul’s Road, 43 per cent of which are now occupied by families. There is a turnover of less than one per cent, down from almost 40 per cent at the end of the 1990s.