These are media statements we've issued to update people about what's happening with the former Odeon cinema in Bradford. For media enquiries, contact Shaun Harley at the HCA on 0113 394 9412 / 07989 203272 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Tom Hustler on 0113 394 9355 / 07876 131488 / email@example.com
12 March 2013
“Following their own due diligence, Bradford Council recently asked us to transfer both the former Odeon and police station buildings into their ownership with £4.1m in additional funding. The increased scale of the Council’s request – both the addition of another building and the significant increase in the funding the HCA would have to find the budget for – means a significant amount of work needs to be done to inform our investment committee so the request will be now considered in April, not March.”
3 March 2013
"Following our termination of the development agreement for the former Odeon, we offered the building to Bradford Council for a nominal fee plus holding costs to give them control of a major site in the city centre. That remains the current offer available to the Council.
"However, the Council has since carried out due diligence investigations into the former Odeon, as well as the former police station, our other major site in the centre, and believes it needs £1.3m and £2.8m respectively to help prepare these two sites for potential development. The Council has asked us to consider the £4.1m investment as part of the transfer of both sites, which we are currently doing."
25 October 2012
Following the HCA's attendance at Bradford Council's Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Head of Area Naz Parkar said:
“We welcomed this opportunity to explain more about the works we’ve done to make the building safe and resolve its commercial future. Since assuming ownership of the former Odeon just over a year ago, we have acted quickly, diligently and reasonably to make it safe and resolve its commercial future. We were left no choice but to terminate the development agreement but we believe our decision presents an opportunity for Bradford.
“We recently made an offer to the Council to purchase the site for the nominal value of £1. Following the transfer of the building, we would support the Council to secure a commercially viable outcome for the site that meets their objectives and those of the people of Bradford. We will continue to work closely with the Council to resolve the future of the former Odeon and deliver their ambitions for the city centre.”
20 September 2012
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has notified Langtree Artisan Ltd that it is terminating the development agreement for the New Victoria Place scheme in Bradford after the developer failed to comply with its terms and sign the Section 106 Agreement.
The developer wanted more time to market the scheme to potential occupants but the HCA was not prepared to consent as it would change the terms of the development agreement and perpetuate the uncertainty over the building’s future.
The HCA and Bradford Council will now work together to determine other means of securing a commercially viable outcome for the site that meets the regeneration objectives of the Council and the people of Bradford.
David Curtis, HCA Executive Director for the North East, Yorkshire and The Humber, explained:
“Since assuming ownership for the building a year ago, we’ve been working hard to look after the building, remove potentially fatal asbestos and resolve the complex legal issues surrounding the plans for its future.
“We know the Bradford public has been frustrated at the uncertainty surrounding the building – and we’ve been frustrated too. When it was clear that the developer wasn’t prepared to meet the obligation to commence with the New Victoria Scheme we decided to terminate the agreement.
“We haven’t taken this decision lightly and it won’t be a simple task to resolve the building’s future. But we’re determined to secure a viable outcome for the site and we’ll work with at the Council and local community to find a solution that meets their ambitions for the city centre.”
3 July 2012
On Wednesday 4 July, engineers will remove the two flag poles from the former Odeon building, as they pose significant risk to the public and the rest of the towers. The poles and their connections are showing clear signs of distress and deterioration and our engineers believe there is a danger they could fall down.
In addition, we have discovered that the supporting steelwork in the tower domes is corroded and needs replacing urgently. This can only be done by removing the flag poles. Our decision to remove the flagpoles has been accepted by Bradford Council’s planning department as it does not constitute any form of demolition.
We hope to preserve as much of the flag poles as possible, which we will store in the former Odeon building.
We are carrying out this essential health and safety work at the same time as making repairs to stop the building getting any worse. This includes:
22 June 2012
We can confirm that the Section 106 Agreement for the New Victoria Place scheme on the former Odeon site in Bradford has been signed by the HCA and is now with the appointed developer. The document will then go to Bradford City Council to be sealed, after which the development agreement will go unconditional.
15 June 2012
The HCA has begun the process of signing the Section 106 Agreement for the New Victoria Place scheme on the former Odeon site in Bradford. The HCA expects to finalise the documentation next week, when the development agreement will go unconditional.
This is in line with the legal obligations that the HCA inherited from Yorkshire Forward, the former regional development agency, and follows extensive due diligence to clarify the legal and financial options available to the HCA following the transfer.
Langtree Artisan, the development joint venture, will now have the opportunity to demonstrate to Bradford Council that its scheme is viable and is in keeping with the obligations of the resolution to grant planning consent made in September 2009. The HCA will remain the owner of the site until the new scheme is completed and will continue to maintain the former Odeon building, as it has done since assuming ownership in September 2011.
10 May 2012
Since taking ownership of the site in September last year, we’ve been carrying out essential work to protect the integrity of the building, including removing asbestos, making vital repairs to the roof and drainage and repairing the steelwork to make the building safe for the next 5 years.
At the same time, we’ve also inherited a development agreement that Yorkshire Forward signed with Langtree Artisan in October 2007. This includes a resolution to grant planning permission for the New Victoria Place scheme, which was granted by Bradford Council in September 2009. Langtree Artisans’ proposals for New Victoria Place include demolition of the existing building.
All legal contracts can be broken but there are usually significant financial penalties. Legal experts examined the development agreement and advised us that it couldn’t be terminated without the HCA exposed to litigation and potentially incurring significant costs. At all times, the HCA must act reasonably.
Before the building can be demolished, however, the local planning authority will need to be satisfied that the development plans are viable and in keeping with the principles of the obligations under the planning consent.
18 April 2012
Since assuming ownership of the former Odeon, we have been making significant repairs to the building while undertaking extensive due diligence to ensure we comply with the legal agreement that we inherited. While the conditional period of this agreement did expire in October 2010, it could be said to be ‘held over’ and remains legally binding because neither Yorkshire Forward nor Langtree Artisan exercised their right to terminate it and subsequently acted as if it were still in place. The development agreement, and the resolution to grant planning permission, therefore still stand and we must observe the contractual terms, which is what we are doing. At all times, it is our duty to act reasonably.
How much would these ‘unnecessary costs’ run to and who would they be paid to?
The potential costs would be payable to Langtree for ending the legal agreement with them without just cause, as is standard with any commercial contract. At all times, our duty is to act reasonably and ending the contract could incur potentially significant unnecessary costs.
Why, until very recently, has it been claimed that the agreement between HCA and Langtree was ‘legally binding’ when it is clear that there is at least the possibility it could be scrapped?
The development agreement says:
We took legal advice on a number of aspects of the contractual agreement we inherited from Yorkshire Forward. On the basis of this advice and our own experience of commercial development, the development agreement between Yorkshire Forward and Langtree still stood and therefore was legally binding. The HCA’s duty is to act reasonably at all times. We understand that this disappoints the local campaigners but we need to act in the interests of all taxpayers and never act unreasonably.
How much has the HCA spent since taking on the building on its upkeep and maintenance?
Around £0.7 million on structural repairs, such as fixing the roof to protect the building’s steelwork, and the removal of potentially dangerous asbestos in cinema 1. Our duty is to protect the public from harm and we take our responsibilities for the buildings we own very seriously.
Since a resolution to grant planning permission to build the New Victoria Place scheme was received, Langtree has done nothing to pursue it. Has HCA got a contingency plan if it never proceeds with any action on the site or will the Odeon simply be left in permanent stasis if the developer does not proceed?
We need to give the developer the opportunity to demonstrate to Bradford Council that its scheme is viable and in keeping with the principles of the obligations under the planning consent. We will do this by signing the Section 106 Agreement, which the developer has already signed, once we’ve completed our due diligence in the next few weeks. The development agreement with Langtree still stands but if we ever reach the point when the contract ended then we would immediately review the options available to us at that time.
How many meetings has the HCA had with Langtree since taking responsibility for the ownership?
As the owner of the site with a development agreement and a resolution to grant planning permission in place, we have corresponded with Langtree on a regular basis and we have met them face-to-face on one occasion.
13 April 2012
In response to a request from the Chairman of the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG), this afternoon the HCA met several representatives from the group to discuss the future plans for the former Odeon. Following the meeting, David Curtis, the HCA’s Executive Director for the North East, Yorkshire and The Humber said:
“It was good to meet the members of BORG to hear their views, answer their questions and explain what is happening with the plans for the former Odeon building.
“I updated BORG on the progress of works on the site, which is essential works to protect the integrity of the building and remove dangerous asbestos. I confirmed that the current works are in no way related to the demolition of the building and we installed the sheeting to protect passers-by from falling debris. We expect the asbestos removal to be completed by the end of May.
“I explained that we are legally bound by the development agreement we inherited from Yorkshire Forward when we assumed ownership of the site late last year. The development agreement with Langtree Artisan and the resolution to grant planning permission subsequently approved by Bradford Council still stand and we must observe the contractual terms we inherited. While Artisan H Ltd has gone into receivership, I explained that Langtree Group plc has confirmed that it will provide a parent company guarantee to the Langtree Artisan joint venture to allow the development to go ahead.
“I confirmed that we expect to conclude our due diligence soon and the HCA will then need to sign the Section 106 Agreement in line with the development agreement. The local planning authority will then need to be satisfied that the development plans are viable and in keeping with the principles of the obligations under the resolution to grant planning permission granted in September 2009. As a consequence, I explained that at this time we cannot consider alternative proposals for the building due to the terms of the legally-binding agreement we inherited.
“We do appreciate there is great interest in the site and we will continue to protect and maintain the building and keep people informed about the future plans. We have offered to take BORG inside the building once we have removed the asbestos and we are confident that it is safe.”
30 March 2012
In October 2007, a development agreement was signed with Langtree Artisan, a company set up by Langtree Group and Artisan H specifically to redevelop the former Odeon, and this company originally submitted a planning application in October 2008, with a revised application submitted in July 2009.
The Plans for ‘New Victoria Place’, from Langtree Artisan, Yorkshire Forward and Bradford Centre Regeneration, were approved in September 2009. This resolution to grant planning permission and the legal agreement still stand. However, many of the details of this agreement are commercially sensitive.
Before the building can be demolished there are a number of steps that need to be taken, the first of which is the signing of the Section 106 agreement, which will take place on the completion of due diligence. Following this, the local planning authority will need to be satisfied that the development plans are viable and in keeping with the principles of the obligations under the planning consent granted in September 2009.
In the meantime, the HCA will continue to care for the building, work with partners and the local authority on the plan for the building, and be as open as possible with the public about the building’s future.
27 March 2012
There has been much speculation about the future of the former Odeon cinema in Bradford following the start of works being undertaken by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) that had to include scaffolding to the façade facing Princess Way.
As the owner of the building, the HCA is undertaking a series of works as a part of the duty to maintain it in an appropriate condition and prevent risk to the public using the adjacent footway and road. It is this work that has necessitated the scaffolding and sheeting.
The HCA is also removing all the asbestos in the building as identified in an asbestos survey. We are currently awaiting confirmation about the condition of a culvert containing the Bradford beck that runs beneath the cinema and it is likely that this will need to be either repaired or diverted.
Concurrent with maintaining the fabric of the building, the HCA will observe the terms of the current planning consent and will work to fulfil its obligations under the development agreement it inherited from Yorkshire Forward.
8 March 2012
As part of the due diligence process on taking ownership of the assets of Yorkshire Forward, the HCA decided to take urgent action to determine the structural integrity of the former Odeon Cinema in Bradford. In particular, we commissioned specialist consultants to carry out a survey of potential risk from asbestos in the building.
The latest survey, detailed below, has shown that the structure has deteriorated and that there are very high levels of asbestos in the building. These do not pose a risk unless they have been disturbed and only to people who have entered the building recently without appropriate precautions.
Now that we are aware of these issues we are contacting anyone who has been authorised to enter the building and we are making every effort to contact those people who may have entered the building without the permission of the current and previous owners.
If anyone has any concerns, they should contact their GP.
The HCA has informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and is working with specialist asbestos consultants to identify the most suitable action to be taken in relation to the building.
Notes to Editors
Asbestos was widely used as a building material before the risks it posed were fully understood. Any older building has to have an asbestos survey undertaken before any work can be undertaken to ascertain if there is asbestos and if so to identify safe ways of removing it.
For more information, visit the HSE website: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos
Asbestos is dangerous if inhaled because the fibres, if they become lodged in persons’ lungs can cause a type of cancer called mesothelioma.