A NATIONAL heritage body has backed plans to build a new community centre in a World Heritage Site.

The Community, Arts, Heritage and Future Technology Centre would be built on the car park area at the corner of Victoria Road and Caroline Street, and be partly funded by partly funded by the Shipley Towns Fund – a £25m pot of cash awarded to the area by Government.

It will include classroom space for Shipley College, 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 and new public toilets to replace the facilities already on the site.

The plans, submitted to Bradford Council last month, have so far led to 166 objections.

Historic England, a national group dedicated to preserving the country’s heritage, has now had its say on the proposals.

The body acknowledges the development would be one of the biggest changes to the village since the early 1970s, but says the new centre would “reflect the core values of Saltaire” and replace an “unattractive space at the heart of the village". 

The response from Historic England says: “Saltaire is an exceptionally complete and well-preserved industrial model village of the second half of the 19th century.

“Many of the buildings are nationally important in their own right, and are listed accordingly. Their high architectural quality and aesthetic cohesion, together with the layout of the model village and the philanthropic ideals behind its construction, underpin the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: AN artist's impression of the planned community centreAN artist's impression of the planned community centre (Image: Shipley College)

“The site was originally used as allotments but was quickly developed as a Sunday School.

“It was eventually demolished in the 1970s, one of very few losses of Saltaire’s public buildings.

“The car park is an unattractive space at the heart of the model village, due to its use and the expanse of tarmac, together with the poor-quality toilet building. As such, we consider there is considerable scope to enhance the contribution the site makes to the significance of the village as a whole.

“The proposed development of the site to house a public building which has a focus on community, culture and technology strongly reflects the core values of Saltaire.

“The Outstanding Universal Value of Saltaire relates to the exceptional completeness of the original industrial model village illustrating Salt’s approach to industrial social welfare, which had a lasting impact on the development of similar settlements and urban planning more widely.

“We consider that the proposed design has been developed to both reflect and respect those attributes, whilst acknowledging that the proposal is one of the biggest potential changes within the Saltaire World Heritage Site since the demolition of the Sunday School in 1972.”

A decision on the application is expected before the end of the year.