A FORMER Council office block has been described as a blot on one of Bradford’s Conservation Areas.

Little Germany contains some of Bradford’s most attractive structures, and holds the distinction of having the highest concentration of listed buildings of any area in Europe.

But a Council Conservation officer has described one of its buildings as “wholly discordant” and having an “adverse effect” on the protected area.

The comments stem from a planning application for Olicana House, an office building at the top of Little Germany.

There are two sections to Olicana House – a stone clad, six-storey building constructed in 1916, and a seven-storey, concrete clad extension built in 1974, a year after Little Germany became a Conservation Area.

After being sold by Bradford Council eight years ago, Olicana House has been converted into flats.

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As part of work to convert the building to residential, a sub station was built on the site without planning permission.

A retrospective application to retain this sub station was approved in 2016 – on the condition that the concrete block building was clad in stone to try to blend in with Little Germany’s grand buildings.

That cladding never took place, and earlier this year an application was submitted to the Council by a Dr Jones, asking for this condition to be scrapped.

It said there was a national shortage of natural sandstone, that the cost of such materials had increased, and pointed out that the towering Olicana House had a similar concrete appearance.

Instead, the concrete structure would be painted to look like it was made of stone.

Bradford Council has now refused to drop that condition.

Conservation Office Jon Ackroyd was one of the people consulted on the latest application. Referring to the sub-station, and the claim that it merely reflects Olicana House, he said: “The structure is unsightly and incongruous in the historic environment of Little Germany.

“Although the 1970s Olicana House is largely faced with concrete and blockwork, this building remains a visual blot on the conservation area and wholly discordant in its surroundings.

“The construction of the sub-station in equally inferior materials compounds the adverse effect that Olicana House has on the conservation area.

“Painting of the blockwork or any other superficial mitigation measures will not reduce that harmful effect.”

On the mitigation put forward by the applicants, officers added: “The original consent to clad the structure in stone was approved in 2016 years before the current shortage of materials.

“Given the small size of the structure it is also difficult to see why materials cannot be sourced when other building projects are taking place across the District.

“The presence of Olicana House does not justify the development as it is an anomaly in this location and detracts from the conservation area and the setting of the listed buildings.”