We want our ugly sports center to be torn down… but now we’re stuck in it forever

RESIDENTS were frustrated when the planned demolition of their town’s ‘ugly’ 1970s sports center didn’t go ahead, and now they’re stuck with it forever.

Locals in Bradford, West Yorkshire, were anxiously waiting for the ‘eyesore’ Richard Dunn Sports Center to be demolished, but it was listed as a historic monument instead.

The Richard Dunn Sports Center was scheduled for demolition


The Richard Dunn Sports Center was scheduled for demolitionPhoto credit: Getty
The building was described as having a "bold and successful design for leisure time in the 1970s"


The building has been described as “a bold and accomplished design for 1970s leisure”.Photo credit: SWNS

The local landmark, which sits opposite Bradford Bulls’ Odsal Stadium, was due for demolition after it closed in 2019, but its demolition has been delayed due to the pandemic.

And now heritage group Historic England said the building was a “bold and accomplished leisure design of the 1970s” and granted it monument status, calling its future into question.

Its new status means it is now one of the best protected buildings in the city.

The sports center has been a mixed bag in the city for years and has been branded an “eyesore” by many residents.

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Local Sarah Park said: “It’s an eyesore, it looks like something they put on Chernobyl. You should tear it down, I’m not sure it’s worth list status.

“A site this large could be used for a major redevelopment of the area, not just to lump that there for viewing.”

Another local, Richard Whitaker, said: “It might have been bold and accomplished in the 1970s, but now it’s not. It’s just an eyesore.

“It looks more like a nuclear disaster area than a leisure center. I just don’t know how they listed it as a monument to look at, it’s an absolute eyesore.

“What are they going to do with it now if they don’t tear it down? It will just stand there and be an eyesore for years to come.

“The council closed it because it’s not fit for purpose.”

Martin Clarke added: “Pull it down and build something useful in its place. That’s why places like Bradford can’t move forward, because people want to keep old things that just don’t serve any purpose.”

Robert Lang said: “One of the ugliest buildings in Bradford. Can’t believe it’s listed as a historical monument. Amazing decision.”


However, others were thrilled with the decision, with some branding the building “iconic”.

Geoff Southall, 79, who looks after his property at Sunny Bank Road Allotment, said: “I’ve had this allotment for 12 years and I’ve had no problems at all with the sports center and I don’t want it to be destroyed.

“I’m glad it’s being saved and is now a Class II structure. I hope they bring the sport back now.

“The council couldn’t decide what to do with it and now with this verdict that’s the end of it for them.

“The sport should be brought back and get the kids off the streets.”

Mark Thompson, 49, added: “I am delighted that the Richard Dunn Sports Center has been saved.

“I think it’s a brilliant building and I hate to think about what would stand in its place.

“It should be turned into a concert arena like the ones nearby in Leeds and attract all the big artists.”

Andrew Romes, 54, said: “It’s an iconic building with a unique design and I’m very happy it’s staying.

“When it was being used as a leisure center he didn’t care, but now I thought about it, I don’t want it to be demolished.

“You can’t call it a beautiful building, but it’s in the style of a lot of 1970’s buildings. You could think of it as the Sydney Opera House in Yorkshire.”


The leisure centre, which was built in 1974, closed in 2019 when the council opened a £17.5million leisure center nearby.

It was slated for demolition in the summer of 2020 but was used as a standby morgue and later a drive-through testing center during the Covid pandemic.

The application for preservation was made by the Twentieth Century Society, which works to preserve buildings constructed after 1914.

In its report, Historic England said: “The Richard Dunn Sports Center is a bold and accomplished design for a 1970’s local leisure centre.

“Particularly noteworthy is the eye-catching ‘big-top’ lattice girder roof.”

The report described the building as “a sophisticated and architecturally striking structure that provided a dramatic backdrop for the sports facilities housed within.”

The council had highlighted a number of concerns, including the building’s high running costs, maintenance backlogs and problems related to accessibility and energy efficiency.

A spokesman for the council said: “We need to look in detail at the findings of the report and work with the government to see what the next steps are.”

A Bradford Civic Society spokesman said: “The decision to grant list status to Richard Dunn is interesting and surprising, particularly given that approval for demolition has already been granted.”

The demolition of the building was delayed due to the pandemic


The demolition of the building was delayed due to the pandemicPhoto credit: SWNS

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Bobby Allyn

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