The chairman of the Council committee which made the decision to replace Bradford’s former Odeon cinema has claimed councillors had been “backed into a corner” by English Heritage.

Councillor Michael Ellis was one of seven on Wednesday’s panel which gave consent for the distinctive building to be demolished and passed Langtree Artisan’s designs for the site.

Members on Bradford Council’s regulatory and appeals committee initially indicated they still had concerns about the modern designs – particularly its proximity to the neighbouring listed Alhambra theatre.

But they were advised to consider the cost to the authority of an appeal by the developer, which could cite support from English Heritage as a reason for the plans to be passed. It was voted through by four to three.

Coun Ellis yesterday told the Telegraph & Argus: “English Heritage backed us into a corner. We took legal advice and had to give consideration to the cost of an appeal if we had turned the plans down.

“We were advised that given the support from English Heritage, if we were to refuse the plans, then an appeal was bound to succeed and it could have cost the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“Basically our hands were tied. We were looking for a reason we could give for retaining the Odeon, but it all hinged on the one issue.”

The row stems from the Government body which advises on heritage being consulted as part of the planning process on both applications. The initial designs were condemned as too dominant, but the revised plans drew support.

English Heritage said it was satisfied that the benefits of the new plans outweighed the loss of the Odeon’s towers and that the designs respected the setting of the adjacent listed buildings and safeguarded the overall character of the city centre conservation area.

Today its spokesman said: “English Heritage was one of several independent bodies consulted on the plans for the Bradford Odeon.

“Our advice was that the benefits of the proposals outweighed the harm which they would cause and that the scheme was supportable. The Council’s officers also recommended approval.

“Our advice is meant to help the Council’s planning committee with their decision on what can sometimes be difficult cases. Opinions often vary on the merits of contemporary architecture. It is the committee’s job to make a decision based on the full range of evidence and advice presented to them. They are under no obligation to accept our advice.”

Langtree Artisan’s £40 million New Victoria Place includes offices, apartments, a hotel and restaurant. The Council is set to enter into a legal agreement with the developer in a bid to prevent demolition until contracts are signed for its replacement.

Director Simon Peters described the planning permission as a “landmark decision” which would “provide the catalyst for the regeneration of Bradford”.

Bradford Odeon Rescue Group vowed to fight on in its it bid to save the 1930s building, which originally opened as a theatre, and called on the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber to call in the decision.