RETROSPECTIVE plans to turn a Victorian pub into shops and flats have been refused, with officers saying the changes would harm a Conservation Area and offer “poor living conditions” to future residents.

And a Conservation Officer has referred to the changes to the building as a “destruction” of its traditional appearance.

The Black Swan on Thornton Road dates back to the mid 19th Century, and until it closed last year was a popular live music venue in the city centre.

Earlier this year a planning application was submitted by a Mr Usman to turn the ground floor of the building, which lies within the Goitside Conservation Area, into two shops with aluminium frontages and roller shutters on the windows.

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Six flats would be created on the upper floors, and two flats at the back of the new shop unit.

Before the planning application had been submitted, work to convert the ground floor had seemingly already been completed.

But now the application has been refused by Bradford Council, with officers pointing out that space in the new flats would be “extremely restricted.”

Bedrooms on the second floor of the building would have “no access to natural light or ventilation.”

The planning officer’s report reveals that an enforcement case has been started by Bradford Council due to the unauthorised changes to the Conservation Area building.

And Bradford Civic Society says it hopes the refusal sends a “clear message” to developers.

The Goitside Conservation Area is an area that stretches from Thornton Road to Westgate. The classification is meant to protect buildings from unsuitable development, although a recent report by Civic Voice claimed that many buildings in it were “at risk” of being lost for good.

Referring to the Black Swan application, Council Conservation officer Jon Ackroyd said: “Until the recent destruction of the ground floor frontage of the building, it displayed a traditional appearance, with windows and doors divided by pilasters and capped by a prominent cornice.

“The whole presented an attractive appearance which complemented the conservation area.

“The proposals cause harm to the conservation area with no balancing public benefit.”

Planning officers pointed out that the shop front that has been built, a single large unit, does not bear any resemblance to the planning application, which is for two shop units.

They add: “The old frontage of the building had a strong traditional frontage that made a positive contribution to the traditional mix of industrial and commercial premises in the conservation area.

“The property sits within a highly prominent location alongside Thornton Road - a busy arterial route serving the city. The site is also within the Goitside Conservation area. In both these locations a high standard of design is expected in order to preserve and enhance their character and appearance given their respective importance and roles within the District, Thornton Road being a gateway into the city and the conservation area preserved for its character and heritage value.”

Referring to the small size of the planned flats, officers said: “The residential units created are extremely restricted in size and layout, and the bedrooms on the second floor have no access to natural light ventilation.

“Overall the layout appears extremely contrived and an over intensive use of the upper floors resulting in a low quality living space.”

Officers also pointed out that the roller shutters included in the plans go against the Council’s planning policies, which aim to deter shopkeepers from using solid, external shutters to protect their properties.

After the plans were refused, a spokesman for Bradford Civic Society said: “This a key gateway into the city centre and quite close to the new Bradford Live development, so its important that any refurbishment is sympathetic to the building and of high quality.

“We welcome Bradford Council’s stance here as they are clearly trying to uphold much higher standards of design and living space.

“We hope that such decisions send a clear message to developers that conversions of historic buildings in Bradford must be of the highest quality, and must be fit for people to live in.”