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Campaigners condemn Carey Jones in Bradford

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Campaigners fighting the demolition of the Bradford Odeon have slammed the proposed replacement which was unveiled last week ( ajplus 15.08.06).

The Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG), which has been battling to save the 1930s cinema for six years, described Carey Jones' competition-winning scheme ( pictured above) as an 'unviable collection of concrete boxes'.

In a further outburst the group's chair, ex-builder Norman Littlewood, also admitted he would rather have seen Studio Egret West's shortlisted design win the contest.

The proposal ( pictured below) by the former Alsop starlets was the only one to retain the original marble-and-brick Italian Renaissance-style towers ( pictured).

The much-loved cinema was first earmarked for flattening as part of Will Alsop's masterplan for the city, and has been at the centre of a public campaign to save it ever since.

Despite a failed listing application and Bradford Centre Regeneration's (BCR) determination to press on with Carey Jones' proposed redevelopment of the site, BORG has vowed to battle on.

Littlewood said: 'The Carey Jones scheme is very disappointing. We are convinced the building could be saved and refurbished.'

He added: 'At least the Studio Egret West scheme kept the towers and left something to remember the architect [William Illingworth] by. I'm sure the winning scheme will go to public enquiry.'

Littlewood is also sceptical about reports that the existing building is crumbling. He said: 'It's nothing more than cosmetic damage - lightweight stuff. Claims that the steel is rusting away are not true. The building could be guaranteed for another hundred years.'

However, speaking about Carey Jones' winning scheme - which has been dubbed New Victoria Place - BCR's chief executive Maud Marshall insisted the proposals ticked all the boxes.

She said: 'The [competition] criteria were set out to ensure that the city gets a building with design and functions which reflect the city's aspirations and complement the richness of its architectural heritage.

'The entrants were judged on these criteria focusing on cost, deliverability and design.

'It was a highly competitive process and the [Carey Jones] entry outscored the other two entrants. The proposal delivered a particularly strong, sustainable financial plan, going to the market speculatively and not dependent on pre-lets.

She added: 'In design terms, whilst presenting a commercially sustainable scheme, it provides a high-quality effective use of the site incorporating a new landmark office building, high-quality affordable studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, a new 100-bedroom hotel, a new and exciting three-storey café and restaurant and parts of Bradford College.'

by Richard Waite

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