A new group bidding to restore the former Odeon cinema in Bradford city centre has received the backing of a national organisation which supports community-owned enterprises.
Bradford One, unveiled last month with the help of the chairman of Civic Voice Griff Rhys Jones, wants to bring the disused building into community ownership and turn it into a music and cultural venue.
Now The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, a service provided by The Co-operative Group, has agreed to assist it with areas such as rules and regulations, membership and fundraising.
A spokesman for Bradford One, said: “This is a very significant announcement for us.
“Our vision for Bradford One is based on the ideas of many of those who have campaigned over the years to save the building from demolition and, that is why choosing a co-operative structure is important to us – it ensures everyone who has shown support can have a say in the future of the building by becoming a member.
“The backing of The Co-operative Enterprise Hub will enable us to develop our business model in a way that allows full participation from the community and also allows us to take advantage of advice and direct support from some of the top professionals in the field.”
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative’s head of community and co-operative investment, said: “With the general public increasingly concerned for accountability, transparency, and sustainability, enterprises such as this are showing how by working together, communities can tackle some of the unprecedented challenges currently facing our society, environment and economy.”
Bradford One aims to take on the building and develop a plan for restoring the building, while tapping in to grants to allow a feasibility study to be completed. It is hoped that the millions of pounds of 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.
The group’s vision for the building involves a venue for music, cafes and bars, food and shopping, as well as space for arts and cultural activities.
The opportunity to save the 1930s building comes after the Homes and Communities Agency, which owns it, terminated 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. Bradford Council is considering an offer from the HCA to take the building on for £1 plus £100,000 of maintenance cash.
Council leader David Green said that consultants were due to be appointed to enable a structural survey to take place before the authority could make the final decision on whether it would take on ownership of the Odeon, which is likely to need substantial sums spent on it before it is brought back into use.
He said: “We have identified the information that we need and will be employing consultants to get us that information.
“That combined with the information already available through the HCA will enable use to identify the risk and opportunities attached to taking over the building.”