A development of student flats in the Goitside area of Bradford would help preserve a former mill building and help turn the area around, according to the councillor responsible for regeneration.

Plans to turn a long-empty 19th century textile mill building on Sunbridge Road into 67 apartments for students attending Bradford University have been approved by the council.

Submitted by Bradford-based Fix a Home Limited, the plans for the seven- storey building at 132 Sunbridge Road include communal kitchen and dining areas, and much of the outside of the building would remain the same.

The former textile mill has also been used as an antique market and auction room, although in recent years has been empty. The application says the upper floors are particularly suffering from years of neglect. When the application was submitted the applicants said: “By finding a new use for the building it will secure its future as an important element of the area’s built heritage. A new use needs to be found for this building quickly.”

Although the Goitside area was important during the height of Bradford’s industrial heyday, it has suffered from a lack of investment in recent years.

There is hope that this development, along with a multi-million pound redevelopment of the nearby Chain Street area, will help turn the area’s fortunes around.

The Goitside Conservation Area Appraisal, first drawn up by Bradford Council in 2005, mentioned this building as one of the large, empty buildings that detracted from the area.

It says: “The prolonged vacancy or under-use of these buildings makes their longer term future uncertain, and presents an atmosphere of neglect in the place. The conservation area would benefit if these buildings were returned to use.”

Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, portfolio holder for environment, skills and culture at the council, said: “I welcome investment which increases residential property in our city and town centres. Bradford has a huge number of heritage properties, including warehouses like this, often associated with the textile industry. I’m glad that a contemporary use has been found for the building which will preserve it and also increase footfall.”

Coun Nazam Azam, who represents the City ward, said: “Regeneration is not limited to any single development – they all add up. The student economy is vital to the city.

“Along with the hotel planned for behind the Westfield site and the Chain Street development it is all part of the local regeneration. They are all interlinked and this is very welcome.”