Bingley: Grade II-listed former mill owner's mansion could be converted into hotel to boost Yorkshire town
Bingley is one of several areas for which a draft ‘Development Framework’ has been produced by Bradford Council.
The framework includes suggestions for ways to boost the future economies of areas including Bradford, Bingley, Shipley and Keighley.
And the Bingley plan suggests the town centre needs to diversify to become as successful as another district town – Ilkley.
Among the suggestions in the framework is a proposal to convert Bingley Town Hall, next to Myrtle Park, into a hotel, reduce car traffic on Main Street, and develop housing in the town centre to “attract young professionals and families looking to live within commuting distance of key locations such as Bradford and Leeds.”
The town hall was built as Georgian mansion Myrtle Grove in 1770 by a promoter of the Bradford Canal project. In 1874, mill owner Alfred Sharp, the founder of the town’s mechanics institute, bought the house. After Sharp’s death in 1896 and that of his wife in 1908, the estate was acquired for the town by the newly-formed district council. The building became the town hall in the 1920s, but was no longer used for meetings once Bradford Council absorbed Bingley in 1974. It then became offices.
The framework, a public consultation on which ends on Monday, says the Town Hall could “Change use to hotel to showcase an attractive heritage asset and provide a place for tourists visiting nearby attractions to stay and visit Bingley.
“This will include improvements to the Bingley Swimming Pool so that it can be reopened and to reintroduce leisure uses into the town centre.”
Improvements could be made to the Five Rise Shopping Centre, and the framework suggests the town’s Market Square could be re-designed to “provide a family friendly, affordable and flexible space which will act as a centrepiece to showcase the heritage and cultural assets in Bingley.”
Referring to the need for change, the document says: “There have been increasing vacancies in the area, with vacancy rates in Bingley increasing from 10.24 per cent in 2022 to 11.54 per cent in 2023. Compared to Ilkley, which has a vacancy rate of 7.42 per cent.“Whilst this can be partly attributed to the affluence of the area, it is also in part due to the diverse offer and experience of visiting Ilkley which draws in more visitors and increases dwell time. Building upon Bingley’s mix of uses within Bingley’s retail core, including an improved leisure offer, will help to start to address this.”
The draft framework says if the suggested changes are made: “Bingley will achieve its’ full potential as a thriving and sustainable market town, with a revitalised Market Square and public realm.
“A more diverse and high-quality residential offer will be encouraged to bring new residents into the town, attracted to the amenity and independents that line Bingley’s high street.
“Bingley will have an improved leisure offer, with the re-opening of Bingley swimming pool alongside a boutique hotel which will repurpose Bingley’s Grade II listed Town Hall, supporting Bingley’s visitor economy.”
To have your say on the consultation, visit https://letstalk.bradford.gov.uk/development-framework-for-bingley