Bradford's Alhambra 'would be overshadowed by block of flats’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist’s impression of the student flats planned for land behind the  former Odeon An artist’s impression of the student flats planned for land behind the former Odeon

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.

Comments (4)

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10:12am Fri 20 Dec 13

Joedavid says...

Replacement building should be limited to height of present buildings is the simple answer.
Replacement building should be limited to height of present buildings is the simple answer. Joedavid

10:20am Fri 20 Dec 13

imi-r6 says...

Another butt ugly building for Bradford city center. The usual lack of style. drab concrete utilitarian cr*p. Luckily it probably will never get built. As Bradford is incapable of finishing most jobs.
Another butt ugly building for Bradford city center. The usual lack of style. drab concrete utilitarian cr*p. Luckily it probably will never get built. As Bradford is incapable of finishing most jobs. imi-r6

10:26am Fri 20 Dec 13

angry bradfordian says...

It looks like a hybrid of the Yorkshire Building Society & Provincial buildings.
Don't think I could be any more insulting to the architects than that!
It looks like a hybrid of the Yorkshire Building Society & Provincial buildings. Don't think I could be any more insulting to the architects than that! angry bradfordian

7:33pm Fri 20 Dec 13

exiledbradfordian says...

The artist's impression is less than inspiring - I'll give you that. But that's probably because the architects have committed to consult with the public over what they'd like to see on the site. Anything more than an outline could give the impression that the design is a foregone conclusion and the consultation a sham.

16 storeys opposite the listed Alhambra Theatre and behind the Odeon probably is a bit excessive, but with imaginative planning could provide a backdrop for the buildings as opposed to eclipsing them. We'd have to see a final design before we could make a judgment on that.

Let's face it - the old Castaways/Jumpin' Jaks/Hard Rock Cafe is hardly an architectural gem. Sure, I've got some memories in the building (some fonder than others, it has to be said) but I doubt there'll be much love lost for what's effectively an empty box.

At least if we build accommodation here we can expect some increased footfall in the currently quite depressing West End - larger volumes of students would increase the demand for bars and clubs - attractions in this particular quarter of the city that have diminished in number by probably 50% since I was a student at Bradford College ten years ago. The recession probably has a part to play in that, but the only way to resurrect what used to be the city's main entertainment core for a period of time is to get people in - this could cause a virtuous circle: people living there use the local pubs, bars and clubs. People talk to other people and gives the area a buzz. People come and visit and don't feel unsafe because there are lots of other people around.

If it takes demolishing a commercial premises to build a residential one to achieve that, bring it on.
The artist's impression is less than inspiring - I'll give you that. But that's probably because the architects have committed to consult with the public over what they'd like to see on the site. Anything more than an outline could give the impression that the design is a foregone conclusion and the consultation a sham. 16 storeys opposite the listed Alhambra Theatre and behind the Odeon probably is a bit excessive, but with imaginative planning could provide a backdrop for the buildings as opposed to eclipsing them. We'd have to see a final design before we could make a judgment on that. Let's face it - the old Castaways/Jumpin' Jaks/Hard Rock Cafe is hardly an architectural gem. Sure, I've got some memories in the building (some fonder than others, it has to be said) but I doubt there'll be much love lost for what's effectively an empty box. At least if we build accommodation here we can expect some increased footfall in the currently quite depressing West End - larger volumes of students would increase the demand for bars and clubs - attractions in this particular quarter of the city that have diminished in number by probably 50% since I was a student at Bradford College ten years ago. The recession probably has a part to play in that, but the only way to resurrect what used to be the city's main entertainment core for a period of time is to get people in - this could cause a virtuous circle: people living there use the local pubs, bars and clubs. People talk to other people and gives the area a buzz. People come and visit and don't feel unsafe because there are lots of other people around. If it takes demolishing a commercial premises to build a residential one to achieve that, bring it on. exiledbradfordian

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