Reviving Bradford city centre and bringing back shoppers remains central to the Council’s economic regeneration strategy, local business professionals heard.
Council leader Ian Greenwood said the centre was the city’s front window and currently created a bad impression.
It was vital to move forward planned key city-centre developments – particularly Westfield’s Broadway shopping mall – to complement the £24m City Park scheme, due for completion this year.
Coun Greenwood told the Bradford Professional Network: “The city centre is our front window but at present would not impress anyone flying in from New York or anywhere else with a view to investing here. It’s more like a house with the front door hanging off which has not had a lick of paint for 15 years.
“We must put this right by progressing schemes, but these things do not happen overnight. We need to pull all the levers to ensure we can deliver.
“I’m not wedded to Westfield as the developer of the Broadway site, but that scheme is the key to driving forward regeneration. There is a lot of work going on to try and bring this about, but much of it is behind the scenes and commercially-sensitive.”
Tony Reeves, the Council’s chief executive, said the authority would need fewer buildings as it reduced staffing. Remaining staff would be moved to city-centre offices.
Moving Council staff away from the centre had been misguided and had reduced footfall for local shops and contributed to retail decline, he said.
Mr Reeves said developing the Westfield site, re-siting the magistrates court and developing the Odeon site were crucial to reviving the city centre. The aim was to create 400,000 sq ft of new Grade A city centre office space.
He said: “We’ve got to find a way to move forward and the retail scheme is the most difficult in the current climate.
“It’s still doable to bring new retailers to Bradford and this will be helped if we can create more footfall.”