A DECISION on a controversial plan to build a new Community, Arts and Future Technology Centre in the centre of a World Heritage Site will be decided next week.

Plans to build the centre on a car park off Caroline Street in Saltaire have divided the village, and over 160 people have objected to the plans.

Some objectors say the new building will go against the ethos of the model village, while others say the site provides vital parking spaces.

But Historic England supports the scheme – saying it will lead to the replacement of an “unattractive” car park in the centre of a Victorian village.

Next Thursday, members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee will decide whether the development should be allowed – and planners have recommended it be approved.

The new centre will be partly funded through the Shipley Towns Fund – a £25m Government pot of cash to regenerate Shipley.

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.

There have been multiple objections, many of which question the suitability of a modern building in one of the most historically significant areas of West Yorkshire.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The car park in SaltaireThe car park in Saltaire (Image: newsquest)

Another said it was “difficult to see the benefits for the local community.”

But there had been 20 people write to planners in support of the scheme.

One of the voices of support was Historic England, which said: “Considering the enhancements that would be provided through the removal of the former car park and increase in green space, Historic England is supportive of the proposals.

“The car park is deemed 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, Historic England consider there is considerable scope to enhance the contribution the site makes to the significance of the village as a whole.”

Referring to Shipley College, planners say: “The College make a major contribution to the WHS owning and maintaining listed buildings, facilitating public events and through staff and pupils making an important contribution to the local economy.”

The report to the committee says: “The development is seen as an opportunity to improve and enhance facilities for key stakeholders and the community, strengthening the social and cultural experience for local people and visitors.

“Saltaire is known for its high-quality Italianate architecture however this does not, preclude the introduction of high-quality contemporary architecture into the setting. The design representing a contemporary interpretation of the classical design that is evident throughout Saltaire.

“The proposed building provides further services to an educational facility in Saltaire, widening reach into the Further Education sector and bringing people, services and a thriving community into the WHS – all of which are compatible with the original communal ethos of Saltaire and the former Sunday School building that once occupied the site.”

Referring to the concerns about a loss of parking spaces, the report says: “The loss of a car park aligns with the objectives of the WHS management plan and other initiatives to reduce cars within the village and encourage a modal shift.

“The supporting evidence also identifies that the lost parking can be absorbed at other locations most notably Exhibition Road car park.”

The meeting takes place in Bradford City Hall on Thursday February 29 at 10am.