Hopes of wrapping the decaying Odeon building to screen it in time for the first major event hosted in the nearby City Park now look in serious doubt.
Regeneration chiefs at Bradford Council have been in discussion with the owners of the key city centre site for some time – first with Yorkshire Forward, and now with the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency.
But they have grown frustrated at a lack of progress to improve the look of the 1930s building, which is a backdrop to the multi-million pound six-acre City Park project.
Councillor David Green, the Council’s executive member in charge of regeneration, told the Telegraph & Argus they hoped the addition of scaffolding around the Odeon at the weekend, could provide the opportunity for something to be done.
He said: “The screening of the building would be of great benefit to the city centre in general and the City Park in particular.
“Whilst I can appreciate that the Homes and Communities Agency has all the legal processes to go through along with Langtree Artisan, I would hope that both parties recognise that as landowner and developer they have a responsibility to Bradford – and that they could find some way of resolving the legal problems and take advantage of the scaffolding being up to act to wrap the building to make it look more pleasing.
“We have been having discussions with them about wrapping the building for some time since they took over from Yorkshire Forward and I would hope they will be able to do the work prior to the opening of City Park at the end of March.
“It’s frustrating. I appreciate that they have taken on the responsibility for a lot of assets and are going through their new portfolio, but I would still hope they can make some progress here with as little delay as possible.”
A spokesman for the HCA told the T&A: “There will be a wrap but the question is who will put it up and when, as we don’t know at this stage.
“We don’t want to leave it as an eyesore, so we have a commitment to putting an appropriate wrap around the building, but it will depend on signing the section 106 and development agreement and how long that takes.”
Building wraps are commonly used for advertising or for obscuring buildings undergoing work or refurbishment. The design can often include an artist’s impression of what will be unveiled after the work has been completed underneath.
The T&A reported in 2010 how the Council first called for something to be done to prevent the Odeon being a blot on the landscape ahead of the opening of the City Park. At the time Yorkshire Forward said it was considering temporary cladding amid concerns the sight of the run-down building could overshadow the show piece development.
Cladding is currently being installed on part of the former police station on the edge of the City Park after half of the building was demolished to make way for the park scheme.
The HCA took over ownership of the Odeon site in September and is now in discussion with developer Langtree Artisan over a legal agreement which has yet to be signed and over the potential purchase of the site.
In 2009 the Council gave consent for the Odeon to be demolished and passed the designs for New Victoria Place, subject to the signing of the legal agreement. The redevelopment consists of a hotel, offices, restaurants and flats.
A structural survey has recently been undertaken by the HCA which resulted in scaffolding going up around the Odeon building at the weekend to allow vital health and safety work to be carried out on the roof. The work should be completed by the end of March, which means the scaffolding could still be in place by the time of the first major event in City Park – a celebration event which is being held on Saturday, March 24.