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Bradford's Alhambra 'would be overshadowed by block of flats’
9:00am Friday 20th December 2013 in News
Fears have been raised that the Alhambra Theatre, one of Bradford’s most recognisable buildings, could be made “insignificant” by a block of student flats described as “a monolithic modern structure”.
Castlebrook Properties submitted a planning application to build a 16-storey block of flats housing 263 students last month. The development would be built on the site of the empty Castaways nightclub behind the Odeon and the theatre.
It would also include ground-floor shops and cafes and see a grade II-listed warehouse converted to a student cafe.
The company says that as well as providing accommodation near Bradford University and Bradford College, the development would regenerate the area and “improve the quality of the urban environment”.
A decision will not be made on the application until next year but one Council officer has warned that the building would ruin the city’s skyline.
Council conservation officer John Ackroyd was consulted on the application as the site is in the city centre conservation area. In a report to planning officers, he has said it would have a “harmful influence” on the area.
“The height of the building would have a seriously adverse effect on the Grade II-listed Alhambra Theatre, one of the city’s most recognisable and valued historic buildings.
“The towers of the building are currently silhouetted against the sky giving them dominance. This would be lost against a new backdrop of a monolithic modern structure, reducing the theatre towers to insignificant urban components.”
He goes on to describe the height of the building as “overbearing” and “oppressive.”
Mr Ackroyd is also critical of plans to convert the warehouse, which he says is the “earliest surviving building of its type” into a cafe. He said the chance to regenerate the building is not being exploited, adding: “The significance of the listed building is belittled by the new development.”
He ends: “While regeneration of the site could bring benefits to the locality and in re-use of the existing building, these unfortunately are outweighed by the adverse effects. The structure would be obtrusive and incongruous in the townscape, and does not have the architectural brilliance to complement its presence.”
The Bradford Odeon Rescue Group has also raised concerns over the application, saying it could spoil the skyline of any future redevelopment of the Odeon building.
A spokesman for Castlebrook said the company will look at the issues raised by the consultation and present any changes to the Council.
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