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AN EMPTY office block being sold off by Bradford Council is to get a new lease of life as more than 100 flats.

Olicana House, in Little Germany, Bradford, is being sold as part of Bradford Council's Property Programme - a major project to tackle the authority's multi-million pound maintenance backlog.

It is being taken on by Absolute Living Developments Limited, the London-based firm behind the Summer Berry Residences student development in Sunbridge Road, Bradford.

The firm has now been granted planning permission to refurbish Olicana House to create 138 self-contained apartments.

The concrete building, with its 1970s brutalist design, is not known as one of the most attractive buildings in Little Germany, an area more famous for its attractive 19th-century warehouses.

But the move to regenerate the vacant building and bring more people into the conservation area has been welcomed.

Dave West, director of not-for-profit group Little Germany Action, said he hoped the work would see the building's appearance improved.

He said: "It's a building from the 1970s which is absolutely not in keeping with the architecture of Little Germany. Any proposal which improves the appearance of Olicana House to harmonise with Little Germany would be useful."

He said currently around a third of the buildings in Little Germany were empty, so bringing one back into use would benefit the area.

Councillor Andrew Thornton (Lab), the executive member who oversees the Council's Property Programme, said the sale of the Council office for flats was a "win-win" situation which would save the Council money and bring new private investment to the city.

And Councillor Val Slater (Lab), executive member for planning, welcomed the news the offices would become homes, but urged the developer to make sure it was a high-quality project.

She said: "I suspect there's a lot of work to be done on it to turn it into decent flats for people. I hope that will happen.

"We don't want to be in a position, without mentioning any names, where we get complaints where work has been skimped."

Olicana House was first built as in 1913 as a six-storey stone and brick property. A seven-storey steel-framed extension, with concrete cladding panels, was added in 1974.

Staff from Bradford Council, including many from its adult services department, moved out of Olicana House and into its Jacobs Well office in March last year.