Turning empty office into flats will 'save countryside' says architect

OIicana House, Little Germany, Bradford

OIicana House, Little Germany, Bradford

First published in News
Last updated

A FIRM planning to transform a tired 1970s office block into flats says schemes like this should help to preserve the district's precious countryside.

Former Bradford Council office Olicana House in Little Germany is to be turned into 138 self-contained apartments, after London-based property firm Absolute Living Developments Limited got planning permission for the £7 million project.

Around a third of the buildings in the area are thought to lie empty and the project's head architect, Andrew Norton, said it was important to bring life back into them.

He said: "In Little Germany, if you walk around the streets there, they're empty. There's nobody walking around. With these 138 residences, we are animating these streets.

"When we have got areas of the city centre that are completely unoccupied, why are our cities expanding into the green belt when we have such high levels of vacancy here?

"We have empty buildings within walking distance of all the facilities of the city centre."

The brutalist concrete structure is not known as one of the most attractive buildings in the Little Germany conservation area, more famous for its 19th-century warehouses.

Mr Norton said while the company would be replacing the windows and doing some work to the ground floor, the external appearance of the building would not drastically change.

He said: "We haven't got a lot of room to play with the external works, so we are effectively trying to work within the constraints of what we've got."

Once the flats are complete, they will be sold to Malaysian investors and rented out, with Absolute Living Developments managing the building.

Mr Norton said the properties would be aimed at the city's 'key workers' such as cleaners or nurses - those who "keep the city ticking over".

Last week, the Council's executive member for planning, Councillor Val Slater, said she hoped the scheme would be a high-quality project.

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

Mr Norton sought to reassure her, saying: "At the end of the day, we will be maintaining the building, so it is in our interests to have happy residents.

"We won't be doing up the building, selling it then wiping our hands of it."

Comments (17)

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7:17am Wed 30 Jul 14

Albion. says...

"When we have got areas of the city centre that are completely unoccupied, why are our cities expanding into the green belt when we have such high levels of vacancy here?"

I would think that most of the take up for out of town housing would be growing families who would be unlikely to occupy these flats. It's important that the flats really are aimed at professional people (as the report indicates) otherwise they could bring big problems.
"When we have got areas of the city centre that are completely unoccupied, why are our cities expanding into the green belt when we have such high levels of vacancy here?" I would think that most of the take up for out of town housing would be growing families who would be unlikely to occupy these flats. It's important that the flats really are aimed at professional people (as the report indicates) otherwise they could bring big problems. Albion.
  • Score: 13

7:42am Wed 30 Jul 14

clayton_lad says...

Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there.

Why do we want another 138 of them?
Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there. Why do we want another 138 of them? clayton_lad
  • Score: 14

9:19am Wed 30 Jul 14

OLDLAD says...

Real question for the council is why allow office blocks to be built when there are so many already empty with no chance of them being rented out.
Real question for the council is why allow office blocks to be built when there are so many already empty with no chance of them being rented out. OLDLAD
  • Score: 15

9:20am Wed 30 Jul 14

collos25 says...

Live in the centre of Bradford or live in the countryside I know which I would choose given the chance.
Live in the centre of Bradford or live in the countryside I know which I would choose given the chance. collos25
  • Score: 8

9:22am Wed 30 Jul 14

sorrow&anger says...

Any sensible scheme that takes the pressure of our few remaining green spaces is to be welcomed. However, since there are plenty of empty office blocks in Bradford, why is the Council proposing to build more of them on the edge of the City Park not a stone's throw from Little Germany? Does anybody at City Hall look at the big picture?
Any sensible scheme that takes the pressure of our few remaining green spaces is to be welcomed. However, since there are plenty of empty office blocks in Bradford, why is the Council proposing to build more of them on the edge of the City Park not a stone's throw from Little Germany? Does anybody at City Hall look at the big picture? sorrow&anger
  • Score: 16

9:32am Wed 30 Jul 14

MontyLeMar says...

clayton_lad wrote:
Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there.

Why do we want another 138 of them?
I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.
[quote][p][bold]clayton_lad[/bold] wrote: Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there. Why do we want another 138 of them?[/p][/quote]I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit. MontyLeMar
  • Score: 10

9:38am Wed 30 Jul 14

Grumpygirl says...

collos25 wrote:
Live in the centre of Bradford or live in the countryside I know which I would choose given the chance.
Very true. In other cities there is a premium attached to living in the centre. In Bradford, City Hall's failure to regenerate is responsible for a lot of unnecessary developers' pressure on our greenfields.
[quote][p][bold]collos25[/bold] wrote: Live in the centre of Bradford or live in the countryside I know which I would choose given the chance.[/p][/quote]Very true. In other cities there is a premium attached to living in the centre. In Bradford, City Hall's failure to regenerate is responsible for a lot of unnecessary developers' pressure on our greenfields. Grumpygirl
  • Score: 2

10:01am Wed 30 Jul 14

Bikerbeardy says...

MontyLeMar wrote:
clayton_lad wrote:
Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there.

Why do we want another 138 of them?
I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.
Students, spot on idea that, the firm could create student accommodation instead of flats, could still sell them to investors but then rented out to students, makes more sense.
[quote][p][bold]MontyLeMar[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]clayton_lad[/bold] wrote: Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there. Why do we want another 138 of them?[/p][/quote]I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.[/p][/quote]Students, spot on idea that, the firm could create student accommodation instead of flats, could still sell them to investors but then rented out to students, makes more sense. Bikerbeardy
  • Score: 12

10:33am Wed 30 Jul 14

LeftLongAgo says...

Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them.
Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them. LeftLongAgo
  • Score: 8

10:35am Wed 30 Jul 14

Albion. says...

LeftLongAgo wrote:
Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them.
Was one of them wearing earrings and carrying a flag?
[quote][p][bold]LeftLongAgo[/bold] wrote: Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them.[/p][/quote]Was one of them wearing earrings and carrying a flag? Albion.
  • Score: 10

10:38am Wed 30 Jul 14

MontyLeMar says...

LeftLongAgo wrote:
Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them.
Mmm.. Maybe the old Victorian sewers are due for an overhaul?
[quote][p][bold]LeftLongAgo[/bold] wrote: Come on now, dont be so hard on Little Germany. Whenever i walked through there i always had company . . . from rats. The place is teeming with them.[/p][/quote]Mmm.. Maybe the old Victorian sewers are due for an overhaul? MontyLeMar
  • Score: 8

10:44am Wed 30 Jul 14

basil fawlty says...

MontyLeMar wrote:
clayton_lad wrote:
Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there.

Why do we want another 138 of them?
I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.
Bradford is in a transition stage and Broadway will soon be finished so surely Little Germany will improve.
Ideally city centre flats will attract more proffesionals but the stumbling block is the lack of high quality office jobs which we need to wrest back from Leeds.
[quote][p][bold]MontyLeMar[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]clayton_lad[/bold] wrote: Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there. Why do we want another 138 of them?[/p][/quote]I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.[/p][/quote]Bradford is in a transition stage and Broadway will soon be finished so surely Little Germany will improve. Ideally city centre flats will attract more proffesionals but the stumbling block is the lack of high quality office jobs which we need to wrest back from Leeds. basil fawlty
  • Score: 1

10:58am Wed 30 Jul 14

basil fawlty says...

What an ugly building, and sadly there are no plans to transform its appearance, obviously down to the cost and unlikely return on the investment. Maybe in 10 years time when Bradford is rocking and rolling somebody will take it over and glitz it up.
What an ugly building, and sadly there are no plans to transform its appearance, obviously down to the cost and unlikely return on the investment. Maybe in 10 years time when Bradford is rocking and rolling somebody will take it over and glitz it up. basil fawlty
  • Score: 5

12:37pm Wed 30 Jul 14

MontyLeMar says...

basil fawlty wrote:
MontyLeMar wrote:
clayton_lad wrote:
Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there.

Why do we want another 138 of them?
I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.
Bradford is in a transition stage and Broadway will soon be finished so surely Little Germany will improve.
Ideally city centre flats will attract more proffesionals but the stumbling block is the lack of high quality office jobs which we need to wrest back from Leeds.
Yes you could be right about Broadway. It could all change once the Hole is filled and the shoppers are back. From memory a hotel and catalogue call centre are still to be built in Little Germany so that should help.
[quote][p][bold]basil fawlty[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MontyLeMar[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]clayton_lad[/bold] wrote: Have a walk around the area in question and you will see that there are already dozens of flats for sale because nobody wants to live there. Why do we want another 138 of them?[/p][/quote]I agree. I used to work in Olicana House for a while and explored the area and found it quite depressing. This might explain why there are so many empty flats. The surrounding architecture is impressive but it doesn't impress me enough to buy a flat around there. The streets are more often deserted than busy and the thought of walking around them to get back to a flat on a cold, dark winter's night is not nice. Probably explains why The Gatehaus is struggling to get residents as well. Most of the hype about Little Germany is just that - hype. The reality of living there is depressing. Now if they could get a few students halls of residences in there that may liven things up a bit.[/p][/quote]Bradford is in a transition stage and Broadway will soon be finished so surely Little Germany will improve. Ideally city centre flats will attract more proffesionals but the stumbling block is the lack of high quality office jobs which we need to wrest back from Leeds.[/p][/quote]Yes you could be right about Broadway. It could all change once the Hole is filled and the shoppers are back. From memory a hotel and catalogue call centre are still to be built in Little Germany so that should help. MontyLeMar
  • Score: -1

2:11pm Wed 30 Jul 14

LeftLongAgo says...

Albion. Yep, one rat had two piercings in one ear and one in the other. And was waving a Bradford desperate "community" vote winning red, black, white and green flag. Not sure if the rat had any other piercings, did not look at its underbelly!
Albion. Yep, one rat had two piercings in one ear and one in the other. And was waving a Bradford desperate "community" vote winning red, black, white and green flag. Not sure if the rat had any other piercings, did not look at its underbelly! LeftLongAgo
  • Score: 3

7:04pm Wed 30 Jul 14

BirchLane-1964 says...

LeftLongAgo wrote:
Albion. Yep, one rat had two piercings in one ear and one in the other. And was waving a Bradford desperate "community" vote winning red, black, white and green flag. Not sure if the rat had any other piercings, did not look at its underbelly!
Were they smoking a joint and had a stench that suggested they'd just come from one of the many cannabis farms in the area?!! It's a proper dodgy little place of Bradford no wonder the playhouse has struggled all these years
[quote][p][bold]LeftLongAgo[/bold] wrote: Albion. Yep, one rat had two piercings in one ear and one in the other. And was waving a Bradford desperate "community" vote winning red, black, white and green flag. Not sure if the rat had any other piercings, did not look at its underbelly![/p][/quote]Were they smoking a joint and had a stench that suggested they'd just come from one of the many cannabis farms in the area?!! It's a proper dodgy little place of Bradford no wonder the playhouse has struggled all these years BirchLane-1964
  • Score: 4

3:41pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Papa Smurfs Wig says...

138 flats there and 268 behind the Alhambra, where are they going to get the takers from?
Well maybe an ideal place to get housing benefit for the hundreds of EU inports we're getting.
I'm told there are some rather "colourful" charactors in the old Provident building on Sunbridge Road that has been converted.
138 flats there and 268 behind the Alhambra, where are they going to get the takers from? Well maybe an ideal place to get housing benefit for the hundreds of EU inports we're getting. I'm told there are some rather "colourful" charactors in the old Provident building on Sunbridge Road that has been converted. Papa Smurfs Wig
  • Score: 1

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