Bradford Heritage Centre Set For Refurbishment

South Square, Thornton, Bradford. Picture courtesy of Google Street View

The Grade II listed South Square in Thornton looks likely to get a revamp thanks to lottery funding.

A Bradford community centre and gallery could soon be getting a much-needed refurbishment.

South Square in Thornton comprises a dozen 1820s workers’ cottages surrounding a courtyard. After the houses were vacated it was saved from decay by residents, students and lecturers from Bradford College in the early 1980s.

The Grade II listed centre, which opened in 1985, has since become a bustling hub for the village, with regular events, concerts and exhibitions, as well as being the home for a number of local businesses.

It welcomes over 20,000 visitors a year and is based in the heart of Thornton, a village famed for being the birthplace of the Bronte sisters.

But the centre’s age is starting to show – parts of its roof are crumbling, and work needs to be done to many of the building’s 99 windows.

The interior also needs to be brought up to modern standards, including the creation of accessible toilets.

Earlier this year it was announced that the centre would receive funding from the Heritage Lottery fund to refurbish the building, and to run a programme of activities.

Now the centre has submitted a planning application for extensive works to refurbish the building.

Works to make the building more secure to the elements included in the application are removing the stone slates from the roof, adding a “breathable membrane”, and the slates being replaced.

Gutters, many of which are in a poor state, will be replaced, chimneys re-set and decaying windows restored.

Toilets will be made more accessible, doors widened and a lift will be added make the first floor accessible to everyone.

The South Square charity is very close to completing the Community Asset Transfer from Bradford Council that will secure the building for a further 99 years.

Yvonne Carmichael, from South Square, said:

“The plan is to refurbish everything, we’re taking the building back to what it would have been. We also thought how about we put a few things in to meet the needs of everyone who wants to visit. We’ll do works so everyone can access all spaces in the centre.”

She said the plans have been drawn up with the help of some of the original people who transformed South Square from housing to a community centre in the 1980s.

She added: “It is a very unique centre and we do a good mix of arts, cultural and community activities.”

Council Heritage Officers have already voiced their support for the planning application, saying: “The proposal is considered to preserve and enhance the significance of the listed building and the wider conservation area.”

A decision is expected later this month.




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