Rob Shearer, 64, is calling on conservation chiefs at Bradford Council to relax rules which dictate that Harris Court Mill, off Great Horton Road, cannot be demolished. He and his business partner, Derik Wright, retired from the former Yorkshire Envelope Company in 2007 before the operation was moved to Crossflatts, Bingley.

Since then the huge mill – which includes one three-storey and one four-storey building – has stood empty and is now falling into dereliction.

But, despite interest from developers, the business partners have been unable to sell the mill for demolition to redevelop the site because it is in a conservation area.

Mr Shearer, of Baildon, said: “We have had to turn developers away because there is a conservation order in that area, so you can’t demolish the mill.

“It is beyond any condition and would cost far too much money for us to put it back into a situation which would make it rentable, so it is just going to collapse eventually. It is ridiculous.”

Mr Shearer was paying £30,000 a year in business rates for the buildings until August last year. Surveyors working on behalf of Customs and Excise visited the mill and estimated it would not be “economically viable” to bring it back into use.

Mr Shearer said it would cost more than £600,000 to bring it up to a satisfactory condition.

He said: “The conservationists said they like the facade of the mills but that is going to disappear very shortly when it collapses. I would like to see the place be allowed to be pulled down and build something there for the good of Bradford. As it stands now there is no way anyone is going to be able to do anything with those mills.”

Mr Shearer is backing the Telegraph & Argus’s Save Our Green Spaces campaign. It was started by the Heaton Township Association in a bid to persuade Bradford Council to redevelop derelict land instead of green fields, after the Council admitted it had no idea of how many derelict sites there were in the district.

Mr Shearer said he supported the campaign. He said: “It is common sense. Why dig up fields when there are plots that are doing nothing. If they don’t allow people to redevelop then the city will grow outwards and become an eyesore within the city boundaries.”

Councillor Paul Flowers, culture, planning and housing portfolio holder at Bradford Council, said the issue had to be carefully discussed with the Council’s planning team.

“He has to talk to the planners and go through due process. We cannot willy-nilly relax conservation area rules to suit a particular person. There might well be good reason for some relaxation and it clearly needs looking at,” he said.

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