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Still no developer for major city-centre scheme three years after Council plans revealed

A MAJOR regeneration scheme for the city centre has still failed to attract a developer, more than three years after the plans were revealed.

In 2014, bosses at Bradford Council unveiled their grand vision for new grade-A offices overlooking Bradford’s City Park, on the site of the former Tyrls police station.

The authority, which had bought the police station for the peppercorn price of £1 from the Homes and Communities Agency, secured outline planning consent for the offices and an eye-catching stepped design was drawn up by architects from Manchester-based firm EC Harris.

The Council cleared the site to install a temporary garden – but was relying on private investors to come in and build the office blocks themselves.

Now the outline planning permission is due to expire in December and will not be renewed, a Council report reveals.

Talks which had been taking place between a potential developer and end user did not bring forward an offer, the report by strategic director of place Steve Hartley says.

But regeneration bosses are not giving up on the project. Instead, they are tasking agents Cushman and Wakefield with finding new potential occupiers, who would then have to get full planning approval themselves.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration on the Labour-led Council, said he remained “confident” they would find a developer.

He said: “One City Park is the premier development site in Bradford City Centre.

“We’re working with Cushman & Wakefield to do some soft marketing on it and interest has been good so we’re confident developers are going to come forward with offers to develop it.”

While there have been calls to make the temporary garden permanent, Cllr Ross-Shaw rued this out.

He said: “The temporary garden is a nice feature but Bradford needs premium office space that provides quality jobs in the city centre and One City Park is the best location to deliver that. We have the world class City Park right next to it so there’s plenty of public space in the area for people to enjoy.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the opposition Conservatives, said if the regeneration of the former Odeon building nearby came to fruition, this might spark renewed interest in the former Tyrls site.

But he said the Council needed to “be honest with ourselves” and questioned whether the creation of traditional office space was the way forward for the city centre.

He said: “I think we need to focus much more on leisure and pleasure.”

Cllr Cooke also questioned why the Council was allowing the planning permission to lapse, saying it wouldn’t be too expensive to renew.

“It’s not going to cost much money and makes it an easier site to put on the market,” he said.

But Cllr Ross-Shaw responded by saying: “The planning permission we secured was primarily to establish the principle of the development, which it has.

“Renewing it wouldn’t be an issue but we’ve been consulting with property agents and it’s clear that a developer will have specific requirements and the most appropriate way forward is to let the permission expire to give developers the maximum flexibility to realise their vision for the site.”

The scheme will be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Regeneration and Economy overview and scrutiny committee at City Hall tomorrow.

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