A long-derelict grade II listed church building will be used to house homeless families as part of a £1.3 million Bradford Council scheme after its conversion got the go-ahead from planners.
The 250-year-old Clergy House in Barkerend Road has deteriorated since it was last used over a decade ago, and is now regularly vandalised and used by squatters.
But under ambitious new regeneration plans the building will be converted into five flats for family groups, while a new build of single-bed flats for rough sleepers is planned for a neighbouring plot of land.
First proposed more than a year ago, the scheme got planning permission earlier this week.
The Council says that while improving the building will require a lot of up-front investment, it will save taxpayers’ money in the long-term.
Bradford Council has a duty to house the district’s homeless, but last year it was revealed the district was short of 40 beds.
This meant it was forced to house many homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation at a huge cost to taxpayers.
Work on the building is expected to start shortly, with a projected completion date of summer 2015.
The new centre will also include office space for four staff, an interview room, courtyard and activity room.
The Council will rent the building, near Bradford Cathedral, from the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s executive member for housing, said: “It is really good news that planning has been approved. We’ll make a more or less immediate start bringing the project forward.
“The benefits are two-fold – it creates much needed accommodation for homeless families and it helps us bring back into use a building that has been empty for a number of years.
“This will give us temporary accommodation we can use instead of B&Bs. That is really expensive and the costs have been rising over the last couple of years.”
She said that the development was the biggest of the Council’s projects for dealing with homelessness and the accommodation for homeless families was particularly important.
Built in the late 1700s, the building was inhabited by surgeon Edwin Casson in the 1830s and continued to be home to a succession of doctors until it was acquired by the Diocese of Bradford in 1910.
It was used for accommodation for Cathedral staff, visitors and ‘needy’ tenants until 2004.