TELEVISION'S 'Restoration Man' George Clarke has warned that any plan to renovate Bradford's landmark Odeon building needs to be financially viable.
The Channel Four presenter spoke out after being given a private tour of the former cinema by the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG), which is campaigning for the building to be saved for future generations.
This month, Bradford Council is due to make a crucial announcement on the viability of two rival bids to restore the building to its former glory. A decision is expected by the end of the month.
After his tour, Mr Clarke said: "At the end of the day with any old building, you've got to look at how financially viable it is to bring it back into use and whether any town or city has a desperate need for it - and also people have got to want to do it."
Mr Clarke said it was "a tragedy" when beautiful, old buildings were demolished.
He said: "That's why you've got to jump through every single hoop and test out the viability and every single option available to a town or city before you make any decision to demolish it. It sounds to me that, potentially, a couple of developers want to keep this building, save it, and transform it and retain a piece of very important history for Bradford."
He said if there was a long-term viable option to save the building, he was "a million per cent" behind it, but warned: "What you don't want is a regeneration project happening and then it falling into disrepair after three years because the use isn't right or the city or the town didn't really need it."
BORG spokesman Mark Nicholson said Mr Clarke had shown a long-standing interest in the Odeon and had wanted to visit it for a while.
He said: "The area that excited George the most was the former ballroom, especially when he saw the dance hall's beautiful ceiling hidden above the Odeon 3 cinema."
Two rival groups, Bradford One and Bradford Live, are competing for the chance to turn the building into a live venue.
This month, Bradford Council is set to announce which of these plans it thinks would be financially viable.
If both are considered to be workable, there will be further evaluation work done through the summer and autumn, with a decision on the council’s preferred bidder announced in November.