The former Bradford Odeon cinema transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in September 2011, as part of the portfolio of assets from the former Regional Development Agency, Yorkshire Forward. With ownership came a number of legal duties to the HCA.
Our first duty is always to protect the public from harm. After assuming ownership for the former Odeon, we carried out a building condition survey and an independent asbestos survey and when the asbestos levels were found to be dangerous in many areas of the building we took steps to warn the public of the dangers.
Throughout much of 2012, we urgently carried out essential repair and health and safety works, which included:
In total, we have spent £1.3m protecting the building and making it safe. We estimate that this has given the building another three years of life. We'll continue to maintain the building while we resolve its future.
Along with the building, we inherited a development agreement signed between the previous owner and a developer, Langtree Artisan, for a plan that involved demolishing the building and replacing it with a 'New Victoria Place' development of offices, a hotel and apartments.
After carrying out extensive due diligence, in June 2012 we signed the related Section 106 planning document to give the developer the opportunity to demonstrate to Bradford Council that their scheme was viable. However, in September 2012, following extensive negotiations, we notified Langtree Artisan that we were terminating the development agreement for the New Victoria Place scheme after the developer failed to sign the Section 106 Agreement. The developer had wanted more time to market the scheme but we weren’t prepared to consent as it would change the terms of the development agreement.
While we were left with no choice but to terminate the development agreement, we believe our decision presents an opportunity for Bradford. In October, we offered to transfer the building to Bradford Council for the nominal value of £1, plus £100,000 maintenance costs. If Bradford Council accept the offer, we will support them to secure a commercially viable outcome for the site that meets their objectives and those of the people of Bradford.
Bradford Council are carrying out detailed surveys of the building as part of their assessment of our offer and will give us their final decision by April 2013.
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