A “LANDMARK” city centre building can be converted into an aparthotel after Bradford Council gave the go ahead for a major refurbishment scheme.

Plans to convert the upper floors of the former Brown Muff & Co department store into a 69 bedroom aparthotel, submitted by Stamford Properties, have this week been approved by planning officers.

The building, on the corner of Market Street and Ivegate, opened as a store in 1870. In 1977 it was taken over by House of Fraser and rebranded as Rackhams. It closed in 1995, with the ground floor divided into smaller units. These units are currently a Nationwide, Cafe Nero, Betfred and a vacant former KFC unit, as well as units occupied by local arts groups on a temporary basis.

The planning application is only for the upper floors of the building, which have been empty for years. There will also be an extra floor built on the roof.

The Bradford Civic Society has welcomed the development, and called for work to start as soon as possible.

The entrance to the aparthotel will be on Ivegate.

Aparthotels are generally used by people on a longer basis than regular hotels - the application says that customers stay between a few nights to six months or more, with many users being business clients.

Si Cunningham, Chair of the Bradford Civic Society, said: “I welcome the reanimation of such a prominent heritage building, but I do hope the developers are serious about getting on site and signing up some quality operators – all too often we’re seeing building owners seeking this kind of permission just to make the building more attractive to market.

“You get the feeling sometimes that Bradford’s being treated like a giant game of Monopoly with all these speculative plans that never seem to come to fruition.

“Tyrrel Street is starting to look run down, so a bit of activity and construction could be a much-needed catalyst for bringing other units back to life. Get on with it, I say.”

A spokesman for the applicants said the plans represented a “major investment” in Bradford.

They added: “It will fully restore and re-use a key city centre landmark building. It will generate jobs, boost tourism, and contribute to the vitality and viability of the city centre economy.

"The scheme is of a high quality design and should serve to act as a catalyst for further investment and regeneration in Bradford city centre.

"Stamford Properties is now planning the next stages to take the project forward.”

One condition of the application is that before work starts the developers provide details of how any bins will be stored. Bradford Council’s Heritage Officer Jon Ackroyd had responded to the application by calling for the redevelopment to include some solution to the bin issue on Ivegate.

A number of businesses currently store their bins near the building, in an area next to large decorative gates celebrating Bradford’s history.