CALLS have been made to halt plans to raze a historic Bradford pub building which is due to be demolished as part of a multi-million pound road improvement project.

Earlier this year it was revealed Bradford Council had bought The Branch Hotel in Bradford Road, Shipley, which has been shut for a number of years, with a view to demolishing it as part of a £42 million road improvement project involving Bradford Road and Canal Road.

Work to pull down the pub – which is thought to date back to at least 1850 or potentially significantly longer, is due to start next month and once it has been razed, the empty site will be used to widen and improve the junction in a scheme funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

But Councillor Kevin Warnes (Green, Shipley) has called on Bradford Council to halt the proposals to ensure proper studies are undertaken on feasibility and the impact of junction improvements.

He has raised concerns that the council is about to embark on an expensive project which will result in the loss of a landmark pub, do little to improve traffic flow through the town and increase already illegal levels of harmful pollutants. He pointed to a study by Baildon Friends of the Earth, carried out earlier this year, which showed the junction exceeds legal limits of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The study was specifically focused on air pollution near Shipley C of E Primary School, close to the junction.

In a recent high court ruling, Bradford was among 45 English and Welsh authorities where more action is required to tackle air quality.

Councillor Warnes said: “The council has bought the pub without any concrete plans of what it wants to do, without consulting local people and without undertaking any studies to see if a new junction will actually improve the congestion in Shipley.

“Bradford Road and Otley Road are both single lanes and are both congested either sides of the lights.

“For all we know, a wider junction could just be moving the problem further down either road – if it improves it at all.

“This week the Government has been taken to court because it is not doing enough to tackle dangerous, illegal levels of pollution in our towns – and now Bradford Council seems to be intent to embark on a scheme that could increase air pollution near a primary school.”

A raft of objections to the plans have been lodged with Bradford Council, many echoing fears that a historic building would be lost.

One person wrote: “This scheme will result in the loss of an historic building and I want there to be robust reasons for doing so.”

Another said: “Let us consider refurbishment of this fine building that was purchased with tax payers’ money, as a venue for meeting and entertainment or other socially amenable activities.”

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said while he “absolutely sympathises” with The Branch being a landmark pub in Shipley, he said due to the current state of the market, it could not be left to gradually fall into worse and worse repair and become more of an eyesore because of a “romantic view” about it of the past.


He said if there was a chance something could be done to improve traffic flow then that would be a good thing, as running cars, sitting in traffic, contributed to pollution.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The council purchased the Branch pub to facilitate works to improve the junction of Bradford Road and Otley Road in Shipley, using funds from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

“It’s the first part of a much wider project looking at improving the transport links between Shipley and Bradford, particularly on Canal Road.

“There will be a full public consultation on these works once our officers have developed the scheme and residents and the local school have firm proposals to be consulted on.

“All our transport projects look to reduce congestion, improve air quality and improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and this scheme will be no different.

“We’ll also be looking to improve the green infrastructure in the area, such as improved sustainable drainage or more greenery.”