A FUTURISTIC two-storey teaching block proposed for a prominent spot in Saltaire has got the backing of Bradford planning officers.
They have recommended that Shipley College be allowed to demolish large greenhouses on its Exhibition Road site, currently used by its horticultural department, and replace them with an easy-access building for physically and mentally-challenged students.
But many believe the zinc-roofed block will be a blot on Titus Salt's model village, which is a World Heritage Site.
Objections were received from 129 residents with just 15 in favour, but officers have concluded that design tweaks and amendments make it suitable to go ahead.
Common objections noted in a report to next Wednesday's meeting of the Shipley Area Planning Panel include:
* The building should reflect the architectural style of the surrounding listed buildings.
* The materials are cheap and inappropriate
* Saltaire village has limited green spaces, so should not lose this open space
* The proposed building will interrupt the key view from Caroline Street and Maddocks Street to the Mill, and impact on key views from the mill out into the village.
* Traffic will increase
* Other suitable locations for the new building have not been addressed.
But those in favour have counter-punched, claiming the new building's eco-design is a benefit and that:
* The space proposed for the new building is currently unattractive and adds nothing to Saltaire's visual impact
* The College is vital to the economic, cultural and social life of Saltaire, with students and staff making up the bulk of people in the village during term times
Cultural guardians English Heritage raised significant objections early in the planning process, but the report says those have now been addressed.
Bradford Council’s Design Team is also satisfied that revised drawings have improved the proposed building.
"It is clear that a great deal of care and attention has been taken in developing the design to lessen its impact at street level," the report states.
" The building has been restricted to two storeys and has been sunk into the site to reduce its scale and the elevation facing Caroline Street has been pulled back beyond the existing building line in order to retain existing street views.
"Passive ventilation stacks mimic the chimney pots featured on the rooftops along Caroline Street and the external wall cladding material (sandstone) and roofing material (zinc) reflect elements that make up the Saltaire palette.
"It is our belief that these subtle hints generate the right level of reference without creating a pastiche."
The building will provide learning facilities for 75 students and there will be four additional members of staff in what is a separate structure to the 1887 Exhibition Building.
Vanessa Pilny, chairman of Saltaire Village Society, said opinion was still very divided.
"However, it does now look a bit more like a building and not just a box and the roof will be the same colour as surrounding slates.
"But personally I do think it's totally out of keeping with Saltaire and I'd have preferred it to have been built in Shipley."
Local MP Philip Davies has always stated his support for the scheme as a welcome new addition to Shipley College so long as it met local planning conditions.