This latest information about the Priestthorpe Annex, also known as the former Technical School, was shared at a meeting on Monday 6 November organised by the Town Council. Since its creation in 2016, the Town Council has been pressing Bradford Council, the owner of the Annex, to take action on the run-down site.
Around 30 residents and local business owners attended the meeting. They expressed mixed reactions to Bradford Council’s assessment that the building has degenerated so much that it is now beyond economical repair, is a danger to anyone who enters it and should be demolished as soon as possible.
- Some residents were saddened that demolition now appears to be the only option, others were outraged that the building had been so neglected and allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair, especially when told by a local historian that in 2008 the property had been valued at £400,000.
- They accused Bradford Council of a lack of stewardship and incompetence.
- People living in the next street to the Annex wanted to see a definite plan put into effect urgently so that the building does not continue to deteriorate and further blight the neighbourhood.
- And there were calls for Bradford Council to act immediately to tackle the problem of vermin – rats and pigeons – which now inhabit the building.
Ros Dawson, chair of Bingley Town Council, said: “We have been pressing Bradford Council to be accountable for its building and to dispose of it responsibly with a definite plan for how the site is to be developed.
“Thanks to the Town Council’s efforts, a report on the condition of the building has now been produced and shared. When we received the report, we were shocked to discover just how bad a state this once magnificent building is now in and felt it was vital that residents, who have also been so angered and frustrated by the Annex’s increasing dilapidation, were put fully in the picture.”
At the meeting, residents voiced concern that Bradford Council had made no investment in the building, allowing the roof to be removed and sold in 2009. Residents felt that Bradford Council had a duty to obtain as much as possible from any sale of the building and that the funds should be entrusted to Bingley Town Council to be put to educational use in the local area.
Cllr Dawson said: “The overwhelming message from the residents and business owners at the meeting was dismay at the way in which this once very valuable asset has been allowed to degenerate. People feel Bradford should deal positively with this building without delay and ensure that Bingley benefits from any sale proceeds.”
The Priestthorpe Annex was built in the late 19th century to provide education and training to Bingley’s factory and mill workers. In the mid-1970s it became the property of Bradford Council and was used for various purposes including as a youth club and school dinner kitchens. It was shut and vacated in 2002 and has been unused ever since.
Bradford Council is currently inviting expressions of interest in the building. These must be lodged with CBMDC by the end of January.
Bingley Town Council will collate the views and ideas raised by residents at the meeting on Monday and will discuss them at its next meeting on Tuesday 28 November at Crossflatts Community Centre.