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It’s time for action on the Odeon
The amount of money spent on keeping the Odeon standing is staggering and represents a huge drain on the public purse.
Every attempt to have the building listed has failed and planning permission has been given for it to be demolished and redeveloped (for the second time in ten years), subject to a Section 106 agreement. This means that legally the building can’t be knocked down until the developers sign a contract for the entire completion of the building work and provide proof they have the funding in place to finish it.
But the developers will not be able to persuade the banks to advance them the money to do that until they have a hotel operator in place and guaranteed tenants for more than 70 per cent of the office space that will be created. Given the current economic climate, that is unlikely to happen in the near future. So where does that leave the city? With a rotting building on a very visible city centre prime site that is costing swathes of money each week to shore up.
The reason the Council doesn’t want to allow demolition of the building until the agreement is signed is because it doesn’t want to be accused of creating another hole in the ground like the Westfield site.
But what are we left with? An unsightly derelict frontage which will detract hugely – and damagingly – from the City Park when it opens later this year.
Surely it would ultimately cost far less money to demolish the building, as planners have now twice agreed to do, and create a temporary (and we stress “temporary”) cheap, short-stay car park there.
With some railings and a few planters, it would tidy up that important corner, draw more shoppers into the centre and help traders who are struggling at the moment to survive until such time as Bradford begins its retail resurgence. And the parking revenues, of course, would pay for the work.
If the Council doesn’t do something soon, Bradford will, again, be a national laughing stock for failing to provide a better backdrop to its crucial regeneration centrepiece.