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VIDEO: Bradford Tunnel Project plans go on public view
Updated 10:29am Friday 4th July 2014 in News
Proposals for a Victorian-style underground market in the heart of Bradford's city centre are now open for the public to view, and subject to planning approval, developers say they hope to open in time for Christmas.
The 'Bradford Tunnel Project', the brainchild of Graham Hall, of Yeadon-based developers Sunbridge Wells Ltd, would see a maze of tunnels under Ivegate, Upper Miller Gate, and Sunbridge Road turned into a contemporary space with two new bars, a restaurant and 12 retail units.
Details of the privately-funded £1 million scheme are now available to view and comment on until August 1, with Bradford Council expected to make a final decision soon after.
Mr Hall said he was originally told about the historic tunnel system 20 years ago, but realised its potential when he first saw the site for himself in 2006.
"I came in to have a look and started trying to hatch ideas of what you could do down here," he said. "The idea is almost a living, working Victorian Museum, but with a contemporary feel.
"It will be like the old meeting the new."
The full complex will incorporate 43 Ivegate, 1 to 11 Upper Millergate and 38 to 44 Sunbridge Road, with developers hoping to attract young entrepreneurs with "new and exciting" businesses.
"We want to give a chance to youth," said Mr Hall. "If it works, then all fair and good, but if doesn't, they won't lose a lot of money as it will be flexible monthly contracts.
"If you don't try, you never know."
The 12,000sq ft application site, formerly a prison, air-raid shelter, plumber's yard, brewery and nightclub down the years, is situated in the City Centre Conservation area, with proposed access via City Park and Sunbridge Road.
All the buildings involved above ground level are grade two listed, and the developer states it will ensure the character of the Victorian structures remain.
There would be Victorian-style units running along the tunnel's internal street with a large glass area above.
A courtyard would have an open-plan glass and steel staircase leading to Upper Miller Gate. This would be designed to bring light to the tunnel system, covered by a Victorian-style atrium entrance and exit to the shopping area below.
Students at Bradford College have been involved in designing potential interior units for the shops, and Mr Hall said a number of firms had already shown interest in renting the space.
"This would be Bradford's own Victoria Quarter, a vibrant and exciting area to make the city thrive again, all in a setting in keeping with its history and ambience," he said.
"Feedback we've had so far has been very positive, everyone has been wanting to come in and have a look around.
"The project is on-track, we've removed 490 tonnes of timber and rubble, and if the planning is approved, we can get all the tradesmen in.
"Everything is on time and on budget, and the project is going exactly how we want it to go.
"Hopefully, the whole development should be finished and open for Christmas this year."