WORK has started on a £4.5 million project to build new cells for a Bradford court and free up a key city-centre site for redevelopment.

Construction began this week on a new custody suite for the Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court in City Park.

This is designed to allow the remainder of the former Tyrls police station, next door, to be demolished - opening up the site for a new office block in one of the city's most sought-after locations.

And it is hoped the overall scheme will pave the way for a new 'business district' in the heart of the city.

The Tyrls building has been empty since the police left it in 2004, but the cells are still in use by the magistrates' court, which is connected to the building via an underground tunnel.

A planning application for the demolition of the Tyrls, and the construction of a new office block called One City Park, is expected to be submitted to planners later this month.

Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green said: "We have been working closely on this project with HM Courts and Tribunal Service to bring the Tyrls site forward for redevelopment.

"We want to see One City Park come to fruition as part of our long-term plan for the comprehensive regeneration of the city centre."

The works are costing around £4.5 million, with £2.2million of this cost being met by the Homes and Communities Agency as part of a deal which saw them sell the Tyrls building for £1 to Bradford Council.

The rest is being paid for with cash secured by the Council from the Regional Growth Fund.

Once built, the new cells should be brought into use in the New Year. The Tyrls would then be demolished by the end of March 2015, subject to planning permission.

The planned new One City Park building would contain around 75,000sq ft of grade-A office space.

A previous idea, to move the magistrates' court next to the crown and county court complex in Exchange Square, was scrapped because of a lack of funding.

In February, Cllr Green revealed that the Government money for that idea was "no longer available" and welcomed the alternative plan.