A NEW Community and Arts Centre in Saltaire will “accord with the intentions of Sir Titus Salt” – according to a major new planning application.

Plans to build a Community, Arts, Heritage and Future Technologies Hub in the World Heritage Site will be partly funded by the Shipley Towns Fund – a £25m pot of cash awarded to the area by Government.

The hub will be built on a car park area at the corner of Victoria Road and Caroline Street, and a planning application for the works has now been submitted to Bradford Council.

The application comes after a public consultation into the scheme led to a “varied” response – with some residents questioning the construction of a modern building in the heart of a Victorian model village.

The centre will provide classroom space for Shipley College, focused on T level qualifications, a “civic garden” and a new home for the Saltaire Collection – thousands of artefacts and documents recording the history of the village.

There will also be exhibition space, new public toilets to replace the facilities already on the site and visitor information boards.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The site as it looks nowThe site as it looks now (Image: newsquest)

The scheme is one of the biggest in the Shipley Towns Fund, and will receive £5.9m from the £25m pot of regeneration cash.

The plans, put forward by Shipley College point out that the site was once home to the village Sunday School, and so the new educational use would have a historic precedent.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist's impression of the planned hub - with Salts Mill in the backgroundAn artist's impression of the planned hub - with Salts Mill in the background (Image: Shipley College)

Saltaire’s designation as a World Heritage Site limits the amount of new development. One of the only recent developments in the past decade was the construction of Shipley College’s Jonathan Silver building, which opened in 2015.

At the time it was the first major building to be constructed in the village centre for almost 130 years.

That application proved controversial, with numerous objections from residents and heritage groups.

The application for the new hub says: “We see this as a project that fits well with Salt’s original vision for public buildings serving the local communities of Saltaire and Shipley that will also enhance the experience of visitors to the World Heritage Site.

“It will complement the existing college campus of Shipley College, which includes several of the public buildings and institutions that the Salt family created for the local community and that the College looks after.

“We have looked carefully at the setting, layout, street hierarchy and place-making principles that were central to Saltaire’s original design to inform our design approach.

“Our new building will be part of the ensemble of civic buildings and spaces on Victoria Road and contribute positively to the World Heritage Site setting in its size, form, massing and external spaces.

“The relocation of the Saltaire Collection to a larger and more publicly accessible and public fronting location supports their planned development as a museum and heritage hub, and creates an orientation focus for visitors to Saltaire with improved opportunities for heritage interpretation.

“Replacement community toilets and an improved sequence of hard paved and soft landscaped civic areas will be a public benefit for local people and visitors to the area.”

The plan says that as well as the civic garden the roof of the building will be landscaped, creating a green terrace.

The application adds: “The new uses on the site accord with the intentions of Titus Salt as a philanthropic paternalist who advocated learning for all in high quality facilities for the local community.”

The application refers to a public consultation about the plans in Saltaire that saw over 200 people respond.

It adds: “Feedback was numerous and varied, with comments made on the principle of building within a World Heritage Site and a perceived threat of loss of WHS status; the architectural design as a contemporary rather than historicist approach; possible effects of increased street parking from loss of the existing car park; concerns over the numbers of students within the village; the community use of space and the spaces used by Saltaire Collection within the project.”

A report into the impact of the work on the World Heritage Site status says: “The majority of impacts of the proposed action on the attributes of the WHS have been evaluated to be major positive. Where negative impacts will occur, unavoidably, in the construction phase these impacts will be minor negative and temporary and with mitigation will be reduced to an acceptable level.”

A decision on the application is expected in November.