When it was constructed in the 1970s, High Point – headquarters of the Huddersfield and Bradford Building Society, was one of Bradford’s most expensive building projects, costing £1.4m – around £18m in today’s money.
Built at a time where IRA attacks were a constant threat – the brutalist tower was even built to be bomb proof.
After standing empty for over 25 years, the building is now part of an £11m development that will see the building converted into 87 one and two bedroom apartments.
So far hundreds of tonnes of rubble and “miles” of cabling has been removed, and contractors are working on the building’s crumbling concrete and removing its windows.
Circus Regeneration is behind the project – and plan for High Point to be the first in a new style development – dubbed Radii, that it is proposing to roll out to other cities in the UK.
When it was built, Highpoint was a beacon to modernity in post-industrial Britain. With air conditioning, sprinkler systems and state-of-the-art computing and telecoms throughout, the building afforded employees a lavish ‘no expense spared’ working environment.
Its decline, however, has been well documented – the building is now arguably the most hated in Bradford with many commentators calling for demolition.
Towering over the city centre – the building had become a symbol of the decline of much of Bradford, and previous plans to re-use the building had failed to amount to anything.
But in recent years the building has gained more supporters.
In 2018 Bradford Civic Society even held a public debate on whether the building should be retained, or demolished.
Last year these latest plans to convert the building into apartments, as well as a new entrance lobby, were approved, and West Yorkshire Combined Authority agreed to provided a £2.9m Bradford Heritage Buildings grant to help the costly regeneration project get off the ground.
When completed the apartments are expected to be available for rent from between £495 a month to £850 a month.
Adam Sims, Circus Regeneration’s managing director, has been involved in other major developments including Hume house, an apartment building that, at 38 storeys, will be the tallest building in Leeds, and the Grattan Studios development in Bradford.
He has also worked with the Park Lane group which has developed over £100m worth of student accommodation and apart hotels.
He believes High Point should be reinvented for future generations to enjoy and for whom the collaboration with Bradford Council marked a turning point in the project’s viability.
He said: “Without the local authority securing a £2.9m grant from the West Yorkshire Combine Authority to enable the viable delivery of this scheme, I don’t think we could have done this building the justice it deserves.
"At a development cost of approximately £11m, it was a very risky proposition for us…but the Combined Authority’s funding has ensured we can get the project off the ground and transform it into really unique rental accommodation for the city’s growing workforce and student population.”
Bradford Council’s regeneration boss Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw said: “Once a symbol of commercial success the High Point building has dominated the city centre’s skyline for decades, yet has lain empty and unused for and almost 25 years.
"I’m delighted to see work progressing to bring the building back into productive use as, with the start of construction on the New Darley Street Market it marks another important step forward on the council’s path to deliver the regeneration of the wider ‘City Village’ area. The council is pleased to be working with the High Point development partnership in making their particular vision a reality.”
Mr Sims added: “The demolition and enabling of this building was a massive undertaking in itself. At over 80,000 square feet, with two hidden floors, a basement and a series of vaults, we’ve had to remove hundreds of tons of rubble, machinery and miles upon miles of pipework, ducting and cabling.
“Having moved onto the façade of the building, the outstanding team at our principal contractor, Solros, is now cleaning and repairing the concrete shell and removing the windows in anticipation of the main event – completely removing the annex’s concrete panels in readiness for the glazed structure we are installing.
“This building really was built to last and we’ve been working extremely hard to ensure that it can be brought back into use for many more decades to come. Circus is all about creating amazing living spaces from under-loved assets and I’m so happy we have the opportunity to develop and operate it.
“With a world-class university for certain vocational degrees and the ‘can-do’ attitude of local people, Bradford is an exciting place to live and work. Bradford feels like a sleeping giant and I’m hugely enthusiastic about its future.”
When completed in summer 2022, Radii – the new name for High Point – will include 24-hour site staff, a gym and communal working space.