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Robinson's Bradford scheme finally wins go-ahead - image

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Robinson Design Group's scaled-back £350 million Bradford 'Channel' development has finally been given the go-ahead by Bradford City Council.

The scheme - which sits in one of the four 'neighbourhood' petals earmarked by Will Alsop in his ambitious masterplan for the West Yorkshire city - was originally unveiled at MIPIM in March 2006.

However, the canalside proposals have been significantly reworked and reduced in height since the application for the key regeneration project was first submitted, after developers and councillors failed to reach a compromise over designs ( Design row puts Bradford regeneration on hold ).

Featuring around 1,800 homes, almost 300 less than initially proposed, the scheme will now include two smaller towers of 16 and 24 storeys - developer Bradford Channel originally pushed for apartment blocks of 20 storeys.

Over the last year the practice has worked with the city's 'design reviewers' Urbed to lower the density of the development, which will also create a new covered winter garden, café bars and exhibition areas.

Although the project still needs government ratification, it is understood to be unlikely that the scheme will be called in.

Describing how the practice approached the development's design while working within the famous Alsop masterplan, Robinson's managing director Alan Soper said: 'The Alsop vision for the Channel quarter set down a concept of an urban village next to the canal.

'However, it became very clear from the early days that Alsop's proposal for wide open parkland area was not desired by the city because of issues over security and implementation.

'This site is on the edge of city and is not the right place for such a loose, semi-rural quarter.

He added: 'As values have climbed and developers have taken more interest in Bradford it is clear the city can take more urbanisation than when Alsop first envisaged his masterplan.'

A reserved matters application for the development's first phase is expected to be submitted in September and work on site could start next spring.

by Richard Waite

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