ONE of Bradford city centre’s most significant buildings could soon get a new lease of life under plans to transform its vacant upper floors into an ‘aparthotel’.

The former Brown Muff & Co department store dates back to 1814, and in 1870 a new home for the established Bradford business was built on the corner of Market Street and Ivegate.

The store, known as the ‘Harrods of the North’, is now long gone, having been taken over by House of Fraser in 1977 and rebranded as Rackhams, which closed in 1995. The ground floor became smaller shop and cafe units, but much of the upper building remains intact, although empty.

Now a planning application has been submitted to Bradford Council to turn these upper floors into 69 apartment/hotel rooms, with an entrance on Ivegate and a new floor built on the existing building. The planning application, by Stamford Properties, says: “It will be a major investment and have significant positive benefits for the city centre and its economy”.

Around 10 jobs will be created if the development gets the go-ahead, although an operator has not yet been appointed.

Agent for the applicant, Phil Staddon, said the company “didn’t have a habit” of sitting around once they got planning permission, and they would hope to start work as soon as all the permissions were in place.

He told the Telegraph & Argus the company had carried out extensive market research, and found that there was a high demand in Bradford for an aparthotel. Currently, the ground floor is made up of a Nationwide, Cafe Nero, Betfred and a vacant former KFC unit, as well as units occupied by local arts groups on a temporary basis.

Describing the idea behind an aparthotel, the application adds: “The duration of a guest stay may be anywhere between a few nights to six months or more. Due to the flexibility of the aparthotel model, they appeal to a wide variety of guests, including tourists and the business sector.”

Si Cunningham, chairman of Bradford Civic Society, said: “It’s a grand old building that’s crying out for a bit of life. We just hope it’s a good quality operator that takes it on so that better places to eat and drink would be encouraged at ground level.”

Val Summerscales, of the Bradford Chamber of Trade, said: “If it brings the building back into use then that is a good thing, it is in a very prominent position.”

A decision on the application is expected to be made in early December.