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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Plan for new toilet next to one of city’s grandest buildings is withdrawn

Bradford Council’s plans to build a “rectangular box” next to one of the city’s grandest buildings have been scrapped after being slammed by the authority’s own Conservation Officer.

Proposals to install a Changing Places toilet next to Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Lister Park were submitted by Bradford Council last year as part of a push to boost disabled facilities across the district.

But the authority has now withdrawn that application, saying it will look for an “alternative location”.

The withdrawal comes after Conservation Officer Jon Ackroyd – a Bradford Council employee – raised serious concerns about the plans, going as far as saying it could cause “real security concerns”.

Changing Places toilets are for profoundly disabled people, and include washing and changing facilities.

The application for the new facility on the north side of Cartwright Hall said it would have “minimal impact” on the building and added: “The proposed benefits that the changing place facility brings to the site and surrounding area outweigh any impact this may have on the nearby heritage aspects.”

But Mr Ackroyd disagreed. He said: “It is a rectangular box with timber framing and composite cladding finish.

“That the structure would have a minimal impact on heritage assets, cannot be accepted. It would appear notably incongruous next to the listed building, and discordant in the established environment of the park.”

He said it was not clear why the toilet could not be provided within the building.

He described Cartwright Hall – a council-run gallery built in 1900 – as having a “Grand neo-Baroque design” that “bears some comparison with the Brussels Palais de Justice”.

Beyond the visual impact of the new toilet, he claimed it could cause safety issues.

Mr Ackroyd said: “The proposed structure also presents real concerns for the security of the listed building.

“There has been persistent anti-social behaviour around Cartwright Hall, with vandalism including individuals climbing on the building, causing graffiti and damaging windows.

“The construction and materials of the structure could present a fire risk, which located closer to the hall, could threaten or damage the building.

“The flat roof presents an easy surface to climb upon, damage or inflict damage on the Hall. All of these risks must be given full heed, and appear to have had no consideration on the proposal.”

When asked about the plans being withdrawn, a Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “We are still delivering Changing Places toilets throughout the district, and we’re looking for an alternative location for this one.”

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