A community hall in the home village of the Bronte family will be refurbished and extended – with an on-site virtual reality studio being created.
The ambitious plans for Haworth Community Centre on Butt Lane were revealed earlier this year, and have this week been approved by Bradford Council.
This was despite some concerns that the modern extension to the early 20th Century building would “destroy the Victorian heritage of the building.”
The proposals, submitted by the group which runs the centre, will see the existing hall, a former schoolhouse, refurbished, with a new extension created to provide more flexible space.
A crumbling former caretakers office on the site of the hall will also be extended and converted into accommodation space.
“Ad hoc” extensions to the building would be demolished to make way for the plans – which include new workshops, activity rooms and classroom space.
Referring to the two-storey virtual reality studio planned for a section of the refurbished centre, the application said: “This space can be used by multiple external agencies such as universities, schools and entertainment business etc for a number of different uses.”
There had been four objections to the plans, with one saying the extension would not be in keeping with the building, and another saying: “The design is too modernistic and will destroy Victorian heritage of the building.”
But seven people had written to the Council to support the plans, saying they would breath new life into the building.
Bradford Council’s Conservation Officer Jon Ackroyd said: “The condition of the village hall has deteriorated since academic use stopped, and there is now a significant backlog of essential maintenance.
“The caretaker’s house is much worse having long been disused. It is now a shell, the interior having been destroyed by decay.”
He said the modern extension would be more suitable than a “pastiche” of the existing building, adding: “A contemporary contrasting design ethos has been adopted, which is assessed as being appropriate.
“Treating an extension in pastiche historic architectural style would be historically inaccurate, would confuse the legibility of the evolution of the buildings, and would be substantially more expensive.
“The principle of enabling greater and more flexible use of the Village Hall is strongly supported.”
Approving the scheme this week, planning officers said: “ the work protects the historic character of the building while adding a modern extension that protects the architectural integrity of the building and the wider site.”