PLANS to turn the former headquarters of Hallmark cards into a development of hundreds of homes have been praised by Councillors.

A major planning application that would see the Sharps Card Factory Site, off Bingley Road in Heaton, redeveloped into a community of almost 400 flats was approved by Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday.

It has been one of the biggest residential planning applications in Bradford in years, and members of the committee said the site was the perfect place for such a development.

The brownfield site includes Grade II listed Hallmark House - designed by Bradford-based architects Benjamin Chippindale and Richard J. Edmondson in 1936 as a purpose-built printing works and office headquarters for W.N Sharpe Ltd.

The site was bought by Hallmark in 1984, but in 2015 the card company announced it would be consolidating its staff, moving workers from Bingley Road site to its Dawson Lane site in Tong.

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Members of the committee said the art deco structure was a “beautiful building” and agreed the development would be “sympathetic” to its history.

The plans for 385 flats on the site were submitted by The Investment Room, which bought the site for £6.5 million in May 2018.

As well as converting the listed building into 144 flats, a warehouse building on the site would be turned into 137 flats and a new apartment building of 104 flats would be built on site.

There will also be a new community facility created in an existing building on the site, and enough parking for almost 400 cars.

Councillor Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong) said the Hallmark site and the planned development had a good amount of parking, adding: “This probably has one of the best parking situations of any residential development I’ve seen.”

Councillor Russell Brown (Cons, Worth Valley) said: “It’s an iconic building design, it really is a beautiful building.

“However it doesn’t look like it is going to be used for employment anymore like it used to be, with hundreds of people working inside.

“It would only be broken up into smaller units if it stayed an empoyment site, but a scheme like this seems sympathetic. This is a great plan, and I support it.”

Councillor Mohammed Amran (Lab, Heaton) raised concerns about the amount of traffic the development would generate, pointing out that there were a number of schools near the site.

However, other members pointed out that when the site was operating as a business, around 500 staff would regularly travel to and from the building every day.

Chair of the committee Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “I think this is a really good conversion of a listed building.”

After members voted to approve the plans he told the applicants, who were present to hear the decision “I look forward to you getting onto the site and work moving forward.”

Conditions of the approval include that the developers pay for improved highways access to the site. They will also have to provide a £389,000 contribution towards the provision of affordable housing in Heaton or a neighbouring area, and £33,000 to provide a new bus shelter and real time information displays for bus passengers.