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Victoria Hotel owner’s warning landmark could be demolished in repairs bill ‘row’
Historic Victoria Hotel in Keighley could be demolished if Bradford Council does not help fund refurbishments, warns its owner.
Harendra Patel said his company – Cavendish Keighley Properties Ltd – might not be able to afford repairs to the ornate facade without financial support.
Mr Patel, who plans to convert the Cavendish Street building into flats and shops as part of an ambitious project, said the firm would only have enough money to renovate the interior.
The Leicester-based business bought Victoria Hotel in early 2013, announcing plans in late summer to provide eight flats and four ground-floor shops.
Mr Patel said his company intended to submit a planning application to Bradford Council early this year, ready for construction work to start in June or July.
But while he claims the local authority has agreed in principle to the scheme, it has not been sympathetic to requests for financial assistance, such as a loan, in order to retain the building’s historic facade.
Mr Patel said: “They don’t want to help. We’re trying to keep the facade, but if we can’t afford to retain it, we may have to knock it down and rebuild from the bottom up.”
Councillors this week reacted with dismay at the news, expressing fears Keighley could potentially be left with a ‘black hole’ on the corner of Cavendish Street and East Parade – one of the prime entrances to the town.
Lord Mayor of Bradford, Khadim Hussain, who represents Keighley Central ward in which the hotel is located, said he would be “very sad” to lose such a long-standing part of Keighley’s heritage.
But he added: “Gone are the days when we can give handouts. We try to support business, but when the council is having massive cuts, we can’t give hard cash.”
Fellow ward councillor, Abid Hussain, who has long campaigned for the building to be restored to its former glory, questioned the logic of the company’s claims.
He said: “It will cost a few hundred thousand pounds to knock the building down but a lot of money to rebuild it.”
If the Victoria Hotel is demolished, he added he hoped any new building would complement the planned Worth Valley Shopping Centre in nearby East Parade.
The Victoria Hotel, which is not a listed building, lies outside the Keighley Townscape Heritage Initiative zone – centred on North Street and High Street – which is receiving £2.7 million of council and lottery cash to refurbish Victorian and Edwardian buildings.
Mr Patel said another option would be to put the building back on the market after gaining planning permission for the flats and shops.
District councillor Andrew Mallinson, who sits on Keighley Town Centre Association, said he was extremely concerned at the suggestion public money should be put into a private business.
He added: “The council faces some serious financial issues. I would hope any investor would come forward with a good financial package themselves.”
A Bradford Council planning spokesman said: “We wish to promote the re-use of this landmark building and would be flexible regarding options. No planning application has been submitted.”
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