EXCLUSIVE: Council to bid to buy Odeon and old police station for £1 each - if £4.1m for maintenance is paid (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Transfer of the Odeon and Tyrls depends on agreement for money from HCA to make them safe
Two prime city centre sites, the former Odeon cinema and the old Tyrls police station, could be transferred to Bradford Council’s ownership for the grand total of £2, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal today.
But the deal is dependent on the Homes and Communities Agency, which owns both sites, agreeing to contribute a total of £4.1 million to tackle essential health and safety or maintenance issues.
The latest move comes after HCA offered to sell the former Odeon to the Council for £1 plus £100,000 of maintenance cash late last year when plans to redevelop the site fell through.
A structural survey commissioned by the Council has now concluded that the overall condition of the building, which has stood empty since 2000, is “reasonable and sound” though the survey does highlight areas of concern including the roof structures of the domes which need major repairs and the external facade.
And if members of the Council’s Executive back the latest proposal drawn up by the strategic director of regeneration and culture, Barra Mac Ruairi, when they meet on March 12, potential buyers will be invited to register their interests in the site later this year.
But the report also warns that if development on the Odeon building does not start by July 2014, alternative propositions for the site will have to be looked at, including demolition.
It states: “Agreeing to the transfer will demonstrate the Council’s continued commitment to progress the regeneration of the city by enabling the Council to control and manage future development proposals.
“Approving the transfer will secure funding of £4.1m from the HCA which has made it clear that these funds are unlikely to be available in future years.”
Council leader, David Green, said: “We will try to find a commercially viable option for the Odeon building and would encourage anyone with ideas to come forward with a business plan.
“We want to accept transfer of the Odeon and the Tyrls from the HCA and after a due diligence process have asked for funding amounting to £4.1m to address essential health and safety works to stabilise the building for a limited period and enable work on the Tyrls to progress.”
The HCA took ownership of the Odeon building in 2011 and has spent £1.3m to remove asbestos and deal with urgent repairs. But the Council’s structural survey has shown that more work needs to be done including the dome structure repairs, and removal of material affected by dry rot.
Roof and masonry repairs are also needed.
The HCA terminated the development agreement with Langtree Artisan in September last year after it failed to comply with its terms and sign a Section 106 agreement which could have included contributions to improve the local community and could include affordable housing.
Langtree had wanted to demolish the 1930s building and build a £40m development of offices, a hotel and apartments which it called New Victoria Place.
Once that agreement was terminated, HCA had said that it wanted to work with the Council and the local community to find a solution.
Naz Parker, head of Leeds City Region for the HCA, said: “Following our termination of the development agreement for the former Odeon, we offered the building to Bradford Council for a nominal fee plus holding costs to give them control of a major site in the city centre.
“That remains the current offer available to the Council. However, the Council has since carried out due diligence investigations into the former Odeon, as well as the former police station, our other major site in the centre, and believes it needs £1.3m and £2.8m respectively to help prepare these two sites for potential development.
“The Council has asked us to consider the £4.1m investment as part of the transfer of both sites, which we are currently doing.”
The HCA’s executive has indicated its support for the transfer but it needs the final approval by its investment board which meets on March 14.
Back in 2004, the poor condition of the Odeon building was highlighted in a report by engineering consultants Ove Arup & Partners which stated that it would be costly to renovate.
Ove Arup even then said that retaining the distinctive domes as part of any new development would cost £3.6m and replacing them with replica domes using new materials would cost between £2.5m and £3.5m.