MORE “high-end” apartment developments are now being built in Bradford city centre, but calls have been made to crack down on the many “sub-standard” developments one councillor says are blighting the city.

At a meeting discussing major regeneration projects in the city centre, councillors were told of a number of “top spec” developments soon to come on the market.

During a meeting of the Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee last week, officers acknowledged that some city centre apartment schemes had not been the highest quality.

A report to the committee said: “We are starting to see a shift in terms of quality, with some top spec conversions commanding rental figures of up to £950 per month.”

It gave examples including Conditioning House - the conversion of a derelict former mill off Canal Road, into a mix of 82 one-bed flats, 67 two-bed flats and a three/four-bed flat.

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And Pennine House on Well Street, Little Germany, is currently being converted into 109 apartments.

But at the meeting, one councillor raised concerns about the number of buildings in the centre that are being converted into developments of small, cramped flats.

Current government planning policy allows developers to convert office space into flats without having to apply for planning permission, under a scheme called “permitted development.”

It means Councils across the country have little say on the size of flats being created in city centres.

At the meeting Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab, Wibsey) said the developments that had been mentioned were impressive, but pointed out that many apartment conversions were of a much lower quality.

He added: “We have some gorgeous buildings in Bradford, but we need to make sure we are not promoting the conversion of office space into appalling, sub-standard living accommodation.

“We are now seeing citizens trapped in accommodation the likes of which we thought we got rid of back in 1905 thanks to the efforts of Fred Jowett.

“We should do everything in our power to find another use for these buildings, otherwise we are creating a social time bomb.”

Shelagh O’Neill, Assistant Director - Economy and Development, said: “We’ve been pro-active with the housing standards team, building control and fire services. We don’t want to tolerate low levels accommodation.”

But she said permitted development rules made it more difficult for the Council to dictate the types of flats that were being developed.

Si Cunningham, Chair of Bradford Civic Society, said the space available in Bradford meant accommodation could be created for people to live fulfilled lives, if the will existed. He said: “I’m all for converting redundant buildings into living spaces, but a lot of the flats in these city centre schemes are not fit for modern living. Unfortunately, national permitted development rules mean that we have little or no say locally over this sort of thing.

“We have plenty of space in Bradford – we can afford to create spacious places for people to live fulfilled lives in, if we really want to.”