Bradford officials welcome news of Westfield's Broadway shopping centre start (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford officials welcome news of Westfield's Broadway shopping centre start
Confirmation that construction work on Bradford’s new shopping centre will start in January has been welcomed as “the best Christmas present” for the city by business and political leaders.
As exclusively revealed in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus, building work on the £260 million Bradford Broadway development will get under way, following unconditional agreements between Bradford Council, developer Westfield and site owner Meyer Bergman.
The 570,000 sq ft centre is planned to open in December 2015 and will have 72 shops, restaurants and cafes.
Yesterday Westfield’s director of development Duncan Bower, Meyer Bergman’s head of investor relations Tami Chuang, Council leader David Green and Bradford East MP David Ward were at the site to formally announce the unconditional commitment.
Councilllor Green said the development had been a priority for the Council.
“There’s still much to do in Bradford, but this is a major step forward,” he said.
“I think that by and large people will welcome it.
“I think there’s still an air of scepticism among some people which isn’t surprising given the amount of time this has been around, but actually when they get over their scepticism I think they will welcome it.”
The Council is also working to ensure local people gain the construction and retail skills needed to benefit from the jobs the centre will create in both its construction and operation, and that the whole of the city centre would benefit.
Coun Green said: “It is an early Christmas present, but there’s still quite a bit of the wrapping paper to take off.”
Mr Ward said political heavyweights including Business Secretary Vince Cable and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had been shown the site “to really try to get the message across that this was fundamentally important to the Bradford district”.
“It’s about restoring confidence really in the Bradford district and lifting the spirits of people who have taken really quite a battering,” Liberal Democrat Mr Ward said.
“This is a great, great moment for Bradford. I believe that this is going to be a catalyst for the future, but also needs to be the impetus that we need to create those jobs so that we have a wealthier and a happier Bradford in the future.
“This is the best Christmas present we have ever had, I think.
“We’ve got to be honest and we know there’s a huge disappointment that this has taken so long to get to this particular point, but we’re here now.”
He said the scheme was also about restoring faith and confidence in the city.
Bradford West MP George Galloway (Respect) said: “This is great news and the start of the much-delayed regeneration of the city centre. It's the end of the beginning.
“Hopefully by the end of this decade we can be rivalling Leeds in shopping and leisure provision and we won't see cars from Bradford leaving to take advantage of the excellent spread of shops in our neighbouring city.”
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) gave a more cautious welcome to Westfield’s announcement.
He said: “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s great that they are going to start. I hope there will be no more delays – we need it to be built by 2015. It’s good positive news, but we’ve had many delays before.”
Tami Chuang, of Meyer Bergman, said the company and its partners were “very proud” to be involved in the “exciting project”.
“We believe in the long-term viability of the city,” she said. “We believe this is a fantastic opportunity to introduce modern retail to Bradford and to its people and set a new standard for shopping experience across the region.”
Colin Philpott, the chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough – the lobbying group representing the senior leaders of Bradford’s major private sector and public sector organisations – also welcomed the announcement.
“This is excellent news for Bradford and the best Christmas present the city could have expected,” he said.
“Not only will this give Bradford an improved shopping offer, it will boost confidence and help encourage other investment.”
Mr Bower said: “I recently looked at Bradford city’s coat of arms and its motto ‘labor omnia vincit.’ I didn’t know what it meant, so I looked it up. For anyone like me who didn’t know, it translates to ‘work conquers all’.
“It’s a very fitting and proud motto for Bradford – the producer city – and very appropriate for today’s announcement.”
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