Bradford Council has lost its appeal against the empty Richard Dunn Sports Centre’s shock Grade II listed status.

The 1970s building, named after the Bradford-born boxer who was famed for fighting Muhammad Ali, was due to be knocked down at the end of 2021.

But its future was left in limbo when the Government awarded the leisure centre Grade II listed status in April 2022.

The centre, described as a “bold and accomplished design" for a 1970s local leisure centre by Historic England, now has a greater level of protection from the wrecking ball.

Now the site’s future has been cast into doubt once more as it emerges that the DCMS’ original decision to list the building would be upheld.

The Telegraph & Argus has been made aware of a letter sent by councillors in the Wibsey ward to residents. 

The letter said: “There are clear proposals it is highly unlikely that Historic England will reconsider their listing so the building will remain for the foreseeable future. 

“If we had to guess we would expect the site to be used for housing or light industrial use but we are not close to any decision, even in principle, about what may go on the site. 

“We have no intention of setting any hares running on what may be the final decision but would state again that we will ensure that there is full and meaningful consultation before any decision is made.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Richard Dunn Centre under construction The Richard Dunn Centre under construction

It follows enquiries by this newspaper about when the DCMS' decision to keep the building listed was made.

A spokesperson for Historic England said the decision was upheld on October 24, 2022 following a review process. 

The organisation’s spokesperson said: “DCMS has a Review Process for anyone who wants to appeal a decision on listing. 

“An application to review the listing decision on the Richard Dunn Sports Centre was made last year. 

“DCMS upheld the decision to list on 24 October 2022.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “We appealed the decision to list the building, but the original decision was upheld late last year.

“We are currently reviewing our options for the Richard Dunn site, for which no financially viable use has come forward, and we will continue to secure the site against anti-social behaviour.”

In the letter sent by the ward’s three current councillors, it was stated that it is “highly unlikely” that Historic England will change its verdict. 

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The joint letter, sent by Councillors Sabiya Khan, Ralph Berry, and David Green, said: “We would stress that there are currently no agreed plans for the Park and Ride and certainly the rumour of a multi storey car park which has arisen as a result of the exploratory work are totally wrong and as councillors we will happily refute all such scaremongering.

“It has been claimed by some that the council had not responded to Historic England when asked to comment on the possible listing.

“We have taken this up with senior officers and councillors and it would appear that this claim arose from an error on the part of Historic England.”

One email sent to the council from the Listing Manager at Historic England said, “whilst the council did not respond in its capacity as planning authority, it did respond in its capacity as the owner of the building, and that these comments were included in the listing assessment report.”

It added: “The FOI team's original response to the applicant had already included the information that the council requested a review of the decision to list the building and that this review request was made directly to DCMS as per policy. They also confirmed to the applicant that DCMS upheld the decision to list at Grade II.”

The councillor’s letter added: “The crime protection officer from West Yorkshire Police has recently visited and feels that we have done as much as we can to secure the building. As well as the metal sheeting on external doors and windows all the main doors have been bricked up internally.

“The previous traveller incursion was as a result of a 4x4 being driven up the embankment and the blocks being moved. We will be fencing off the embankment to try and prevent a further problem of this sort.”