The boss of a national housing body has praised a regeneration scheme in the heart of the city.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, visited a multi-million pound transformation of the Chain Street area of Goitside yesterday.

And he took part in a ceremonial ‘ground-breaking’ to mark the official start of the second phase of work.

Mr Orr said it was one of the best schemes he had seen across the whole of the UK.

He said: “I get around the country and I see lots and lots of these. The imagination that has gone into this regeneration project is fantastic.”

But he said he wished he saw more projects like it.

He said: “The problem is, we are not doing nearly enough of it. In places like Bradford, we need more regeneration of this kind.”

The first phase of the Chain Street scheme, by social landlord Incommunities, Bradford Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, saw 36 outdated flats remodelled into 16 larger homes.

The second phase, to build 32 houses where now-demolished flats once stood, is due to begin next month.

Mr Orr said: “Very often when people talk about a new housing project, folk around it think, ‘Oh no, that will be a bad thing’.

“But this work proves that if you do get a quality regeneration, it completely transforms a neighbourhood.

“This isn’t just good for the people who live in the houses, it’s good for the whole community. When they do phase two, that will make this area even more vibrant and the benefit will really spread wide.

“We will have taken these old, horrible buildings and turned them into something great, and demolished nasty old tenements and built fantastic new homes.”

Geraldine Howley, chief executive of Incommunities, said the old U-shaped block of flats hadn’t been worth saving.

She said: “They were not very attractive.

“They had the nickname of ‘Death Row’, and in terms of anti-social behaviour it wasn’t a very good environment.

“It also wasn’t in keeping with the oldest of our stock, which are the ones we have retained.”

Ten of the homes will be sold privately, ten will be used for social housing and let out through Incommunities and a further 12 will be privately rented.

The first homes are expected to be finished in January next year. Also in the pipeline is a new ‘linear park’ running through the area.