Business owners in Bradford city centre are playing a “two-year survival game” as they wait for the Westfield development.
An open meeting for city centre businesses at the Midland Hotel tonight heard that firms are desperate for increased footfall.
Security, environmental issues, low quality shops, a lack of mainstream businesses, and apathy and the atmosphere in the city centre were also raised as prominent concerns by the 15 people who turned up to the Bradford Council-run event.
A need for more office-based businesses in the city centre to boost spending was also encouraged.
George Kudelnitzky, who runs Coffee Bianco and George Alexander Hairdressing in the city centre, said: “My colleagues in business in the city centre are desperate and are playing a two-year survival game between now and getting the Westfield shopping centre open.
“But the notion that Bradford is finished is rubbish.
“This is just the beginning for Bradford.
“We just need to see them start the Westfield centre. It does not even need to be built yet.
“To get the feelgood factor we just need to see the yellow jackets so we know it is being built.”
The meeting heard that the Bradford district is huge and vast and very wealthy, but all the spending goes to Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.
It was also claimed that Bradford just needs one major player to move to the city and then others will follow suit.
Some businesses advocated early-evening opening, as well as trading to fit around Bradford Council events in the city centre.
Mr Kudelnitzky said: “We really need the mainstream fashion-based shops, such as H&M and Republic.”
A lack of eateries and big-name food chains was also bemoaned, with Pizza Express and Pret-A-Manger among firms touted.
Councillor Dave Green, leader of Bradford Council, said: “Things are moving in Bradford city centre.
“But the council can only do so much. We can encourage with events, we will bust a gut to get businesses into the city centre, but we need your help to get customers through the doors and loosening their purse strings.”
He added: “When Westfield is built, it will not be the answer to all Bradford’s problems.
“It is the edge of the jigsaw. We need to put the picture in the middle.
“Businesses have survived the worst times in Bradford, now stay around for the good times.”