Historic England and George Group object to plans to demolish Grade-II listed building

Proposals to demolish a listed Bradford building have met with objections from two historical groups.

Both Historic England and the Georgian Group have written to Bradford Council to voice their objections to plans to flatten the former Tanks and Drums building on Bowling Back Lane.

The Grade II listed building, also known as Bowling House, was built in the 1830s as part of the Bowling Iron Works site.

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It was last used in 1999 as the headquarters for local company Tanks and Drums, and has been empty ever since. In February the building was damaged by a fierce fire.

The former Tanks and Drums factory in Bradford

In April its owners, the Leo Sawrij group submitted a planning application to Bradford Council for permission to demolish the building for safety reasons.

A decision has yet to be made, but Historic England and the Georgian Group have raised serious concerns about the “total loss” of the building – arguing that demolition of a listed building must only take place as a last resort.

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The company said: “Prior to the fire the building had been vacant for a long time and a regular target for vandals.

"It was and still is a magnet for children, and in its now very dangerous condition it poses a significant risk to public health and safety, so time is of the essence for Bradford City Council to process the demolition application and allow Leo Sawrij to organise demolition work and make the site safe.”

The application includes a heritage statement that seems to have been prepared in September, before the fire, and related to the demolition of a more modern extension to the building – rather than the entire property.

Both history groups say the applicants need to provide a much stronger justification before they demolish the listed building.

The letter from the Georgian Group says: “The submitted appraisal is not detailed enough to understand the extent to which historic fabric survives or its significance. A detailed structural report by a conservation accredited engineer should be produced, addressing the condition of the building including a detailed condition survey and appraisal of costed alternatives.

“The demolition of the Georgian villa would result in the total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset. The National Planning Policy Framework states that great weight should be given to the conservation of designated heritage assets, with substantial harm to, or loss of, a Grade II listed building being exceptional and requiring clear and convincing justification. The Georgian Group do not believe that these tests have been met.”

The group – which counts Prince Charles as a patron – says the plans should be withdrawn or refused.

Historic England’s letter to the council says: “The resulting harm caused by this application is substantial, requiring a strong robust justification that is not provided by the applicant.

“The only current image of the building included with this submission is a strong cause for concern, with a large portion of the south elevation and roof missing.

“The information submitted in support of this application comprises a heritage statement dated September 2020, a generic block plan of the property and a brief planning statement.

“No detailed plans, photographs, condition survey or appraisal of costed alternatives to the full demolition of the property are included with this application.

“The demolition of a listed building should only be sanctioned when all other options have been considered. We acknowledge the poor condition of the building, but this does not in itself justify its loss.”

A decision on the application is expected next month.