Hockney’s Old Art College To Become Bradford Restaurant

The listed building requires extensive refurbishment.

One of Bradford’s most culturally significant buildings could soon be brought back to use after years of lying empty.

The former Grove Library shut was shut by Bradford College in 2015 when it moved many of its facilities into its newest building.

The Grade II listed building on Great Horton Road is one of the city centre’s most striking buildings. But the most significant thing about the building is that it was where David Hockney honed his artistic talents.

Before being turned into a library the building was the Bradford Regional College of Art – it was here where Hockney and his colleagues David Oxtoby, John Loker, Michael Vaughan and Norman Stevens, who became known in art circles as the Bradford Mafia, studied.

The building was sold several years ago, and now a planning application to turn the building into a restaurant, conference facilities and offices has been submitted to Bradford Council.

The application, by M Rashid of Lala’s Restaurant, is for change of use to serviced offices, restaurant, conference facilities and “sky lounge cafe.” It will become the “hub” of the Lala’s restaurant chain.

Bradford Civic Society has welcomed news that the building may be brought back to use, saying that area of the city had become a “ghost town.”

The application says the ground floor of the building would be turned into a restaurant, while the roof area would become a “roof top tea lounge.” The new venue would create 15 full time and 22 part time jobs.

The application says: “The proposal is to ensure minimal intervention to a key building within Bradford which was frequented by a key figure within Bradford; David Hockney.

“The building is of high architectural value and some of this has been lost internally due to the internal demands and configurations of a college.

“The building has been vacated for a while and has become a building that is in need of restoration. Due to its previous usage the building has not been cared for and has a number of issues which need addressing to make it usable.

“The substantial size of the building across a number of floors means that extensive renovation is required.

“The roof top tea lounge will provide an exclusive service and an exclusive venue in Bradford for the community.
“The ground floor is to be developed into a Lala’s restaurant. A Bradford company which is developing into a strong brand and this shall be its hub of four restaurants and flagship venues.

“It is deemed that this minimal intervention ensures this substantial building just on the outskirts of the city centre has a new use.

“This will ensure the long term life of the building and create a new chapter in this historic building. In its current state the building will only drop into further disrepair and will become one of Bradford’s many derelict buildings.”

Si Cunningham, Chair of Bradford Civic Society, said: “It’s quite a striking building so good to see that a use has been found for it.

“At face value, the plans seem respectful of the building’s heritage and it looks like a tenant is already in place to operate the restaurant.

“Hopefully this project will help put a bit of vibrancy back into the heart of Bradford’s education quarter. In recent years it’s become a bit of a ghost town up there.”

A decision on the application is expected next month.

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