Members heard that while there were some concerns over the plan to create 190 flats in the Old Building on Great Horton Road, the conversion was likely to be one of the only ways the Grade II listed structure would be brought back into use.
The building, which dates back to 1832, was the original home of Bradford College until it became surplus to requirements after the educational institution moved most of its classes into the new build David Hockney Building next door.
It is currently being used as a Covid vaccination centre.
Shortly before Covid 19 pandemic began, plans to convert the building into flats were revealed, and over a year later the application went before members of Bradford Council’s regulatory and appeals committee.
Some aspects of the plan – such as a lack of on-site parking for future residents, were questioned by councillors. But ultimately they approved the application.
The development, a mixture of studio, one bed, two bed and duplex apartments, would also include a 24 hour concierge, gym and media room, as well as communal courtyard.
There was space for just two on site parking spaces. The applicant had agreed that they would provide 45 parking spaces at the NCP car park on Thornton Road for any future residents who had cars.
Planning officer Stuart Currie said: “It is thought this plan could bring life back into this part of the city centre. 190 flats would bring an increased residential population into this area of the city, as well as reusing a listed building.”
Coun Alan Wainwright said: “I can support the building being brought back into use, but I do have concerns. We’ll have 190 units and we’re talking about 45 parking passes for a car park some 400 metres away. I know of plenty of planning applications that have been rejected for a lack of parking spaces.”
Coun Paul Godwin agreed that the parking aspect was “troublesome.”
Mr Currie said guidelines for city centre developments do not necessarily require parking spaces, and pointed out that for buildings like this and other in Little Germany space for parking “doesn’t exist.”
He said: “I’m not sure what other alternatives we have, there is no other nearby land available.”
He pointed out that converting the building to offices would also raise similar parking issues.
John Rowley, principal highways engineer, said: “We have a Clean Air Zone strategy being introduced, and we are really trying to reduce vehicle patronage in the city centre. What we’re trying to do is remove car usage.”
Members were told that residents would be offered E bikes and E scooters to further reduce reliance on cars.
Zeb Iqbal from applicants Citywide Investors told members the application was in partnership with Bradford College, and an earlier attempt to sell the building to the University of Bradford had never materialised. The building also didn’t have the modern features that would attract businesses.
He added: “The building doesn’t appear to lend itself to anything other than conversion to residential.
“Everyone involved in this has an enormous love and connection to this building. Providing we get everything right we can make this development a shining light the city can be proud of.”
He said the flats would be ideal for academics working at the University, or graduates moving on from student accommodation but wanting to remain in the city.
Members voted to approve the application on the condition of the agreement to provide 45 parking passes for future residents.