BRADFORD Council may buy a crumbling 16th Century house that is "too important" for the city to lose.

The Old Manor House in Manningham is one of the city's oldest surviving buildings, but is currently little more than a shell.

Local residents, Councillors and conservation groups have raised serious concern about the state of the building, which has been empty since 2000.

It has now emerged that Bradford Council may issue a compulsory purchase order to take on the building and restore it. It would force the owner to sell the property.

Concerns grow about state of Manningham's oldest-known building

The building's future will be discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council's Executive next Tuesday where members will be urged to approve a compulsory purchase order.

It is a move that people have been urging the Council to make for several years.

The discussion on the Manor House will be held in a section of the meeting where the press and public are excluded.

Details of the potential costs of the scheme, and the building's ownership history, have also been kept confidential.

The Rosebury Road building is Grade II listed and lies within the St Paul's Conservation area of Manningham.

Scaffolding currently covers part of the building - an effort by the Council to prevent it from further deteriorating until it can take ownership of the site.

A report to the Executive details the torrid recent history of the building, including half completed works and legal orders to repair the heritage asset. It points out that a Compulsory Purchase Order will be a "last resort."

It says: "Externally the building is derelict, with no doors and windows, mostly lacking any effective roof covering and with resultant structural damage to the timber roof members and rubble filled stone walls from prolonged water ingress.

"Some of the historic timbers are affected by rot and are collapsing as a result. Internally, the building has been stripped to a shell and has suffered through poor and abortive alteration works, leaving the building partly filled with debris, lacking any floors or wall finishes, displaying accelerating structural issues and is devoid of any services or facilities.

"The building is uninhabitable and visually is detrimental to the surrounding and established residential area.

"The building has attracted recurring issues of fly tipping and anti-social behaviour, which is also detrimental to the locality.

"The historic significance of this highly important listed building is gravely threatened by continued loss of fabric or catastrophic incident.

"Since 2012, no further work has taken place and the building has continued to deteriorate.

"Invasive vegetation has taken hold in wall tops and has resulted in destabilisation of stonework. The building is now in a precarious state with the roof structure threatened by major failure.

"The Council has attempted to engage with the owner of the building but without success since 2004. In the second half of 2019 and early 2020 attempts were made to negotiate with the owner to facilitate acquisition by agreement.

"However the owner failed to respond to any contact and has sealed up his domestic letter box, preventing conventional correspondence by post."

Historic England has provided funding to the Council to prevent the building from degrading further, but the report says: "For the building to have a secure future, an assured use and full renovation are required.

"Whilst there is no obligation in law for an owner to maintain or use a listed building, the powers of the Planning Act 1990 exist to protect listed buildings from neglect or the threat of loss. The Council now needs to consider the options available if it wishes to ensure the proper preservation of this statutorily protected building.

"Historic England recognises the importance of the Building and have been gravely concerned over the condition of the building for several years. They have confirmed that the building is a rare surviving building of its type and a key building in the St Pauls Conservation Area and believe the building is too important to be threatened with loss. "

If the property is purchased and refurbished by the Council it will be funded through the authority’s Blight Site Fund - created in this year’s budget to assist the council to bring properties which are blighting communities back into use.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “The Old Manor House is a valuable piece of local history and it is important we do everything we can to save it. 

“The district has some incredible history and heritage buildings of this type not only tell the story of Bradford’s past but also contribute to the unique character of our area.”