Great Britain

Bradford city centre has been 'overloaded' with cheap flats in recent years - meeting told

BRADFORD city centre is becoming "overloaded" with low cost flats, and planners will no longer push for city apartment schemes to include affordable housing.

A planning meeting this week heard that the centre already had a large amount of cheap flats - with some going to market for as cheap as £5,000.

And one developer said these low cost flats were not painting Bradford in a good light.

Bradford Council usually requires any major housing development to include an amount of affordable housing - making it easier for people who cannot afford market housing to find a home.

Often developers have to show that 20 per cent of housing will be affordable to get planning permission.

But the authority's Regulatory and Appeals Committee has been told that it will no longer push for future developments of flats in the city centre to include an affordable housing provision.

Instead any future affordable housing in the centre would ideally be family housing, similar to the Chain Street development.

Conversion of listed former College building would 'bring life back' into area of city centre

Members of the committee were discussing plans to convert the listed Old Building on Great Horton Road - the former home of Bradford College, into 190 flats.

Planning officers told the committee the Council would not require the developer to provide affordable housing for this scheme, as the cost of converting the building would make any subsidised housing unviable.

Their report to members added: "It is considered that the supply and market for affordable housing within the City Centre has been met and further affordable housing in the form of flats is not sought."

During the meeting Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: "Interestingly the report says the market for affordable housing has been met, which I find somewhat remarkable.

"If we don't need affordable housing in the city centre and it's peripheries, then that raises the question of what housing we do want here?"

Planning officer Stewart Currie said: "In more recent years, the last five years or so, there is a feeling that affordable housing has been overloaded in Bradford city centre.

"Let's face it, most housing in the city centre is flats, and a lot are what you'd call affordable - in Little Germany and the top of town."

"The main problem is flats - that is how it is seen by our housing department. We've got enough flats, so called affordable flats, in Bradford city centre, so we wouldn't be promoting affordable flats."

Referring to what affordable housing the Council would like to see in the city centre he referred to the Chain Street development.

That development, in the Longlands area of the city centre, was created almost 10 years ago when semi derelict housing was demolished and replaced with new build family homes, complete with public green spaces.

Mr Currie said: "Schemes such as Chain Street which has a number of family homes - those are one's we'd work with developers to promote.

"But conversions of buildings like this are going to be flats."

Government changes mean developers can convert buildings to flats without the need for planning permission

Zeb Iqbal from applicants Citywide Investors told members that low property values in Bradford proved an issue when converting listed buildings, which could mean works to convert buildings cost more than the eventual value.

He said: "Last week I did a feasibility study for converting a building. If that building had been in Bradford the work wouldn't be feasible to do. We know that sadly you can pick up a flat in Bradford at auction for £5,000. That doesn't give Bradford a good name."

As recently as last month a flat in a building on Cheapside went on the market with an asking price of £5,000.

Bradford Council's Local Plan, which is in the early stages, has allocated 7,000 new homes be created in the city centre by 2038.

However - preventing the creation of more cheap flats may not be so straightforward for Bradford Council.

Permitted Development rules - introduced by the Government in 2013, allow developers to convert empty office space into flats without the need for planning permission.

Councils have little say in what types of flats are built - other to step in if they would create serious highways or environmental health concerns.

Earlier this year the Government announced that these permitted development rules would be expanded, allowing developers to convert empty shops into flats without the need for planning permission.

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