7:00am Wednesday 14th November 2012
By Jo Winrow
A new community-led organisation was launched yesterday with the aim of taking on Bradford’s long-empty Odeon building, restoring it, and turning it into a music and cultural venue.
Bradford One received the backing of comedian, television presenter and chairman of Civic Voice Griff Rhys Jones, who visited the city to support the launch. He endorsed the community-led regeneration of the 1930s former cinema, urging those behind the group to “stick with it”.
The organisation is being set up to give the people of Bradford the opportunity to secure the future of the building by having a say in their plans, which are expected to be submitted to Bradford Council in a matter of months.
It aims to provide a “vehicle for taking the building into community ownership”, which would involve an agreement with the building’s owner, the Homes and Communities Agency, or with the Council, which is considering taking over the Odeon for £1 plus £100,000 of maintenance cash from the Government agency.
Their goal is to develop a plan for after undertaking consultation, and hope to tap in to grants to allow a feasibility study to be completed. Further down the line it is hoped that the millions in funding to develop the building would come from a community share issue; grants, donations and sponsorship; as well as investor funding, borrowing and private equity.
In launching the project, Gideon Seymour, of arts organisation Fabric, said their vision involved a venue for music, cafes and bars, food and shopping, as well as space for arts and cultural activities.
Mr Jones added: “This is a local initiative and what I am interested in, is the idea of people taking local action.”
He said Bradford One was a “brilliant example” of community-led regeneration. Mark Nicholson, of Bradford Odeon Rescue Group which has been campaigning to save the building for a decade, attended the launch, and told the Telegraph & Argus: “In principle as a group we support any step that goes towards saving and refurbishing the building.”
It follows the HCA terminating a long-standing legal agreement in September with developer Langtree, which had wanted to demolish the building and build a £40 million New Victoria Place development of offices, a hotel and apartments.
Barra Mac Ruairi, the Council’s strategic director for regeneration and culture, said: "We will work with interested parties to progress commercially viable schemes. We have already met with BORG and Bradford One.”
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