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Group bids for support for entertainment plans
7:00am Saturday 8th December 2012 in News
A new plan to restore Bradford’s former Odeon building is to be revealed in detail at a launch event.
But first the Telegraph & Argus can provide a glimpse into how the building could look under the Bradford Live restoration plans.
The scheme aims to show how a world class live music venue, which would hold 3,500 people, could be created within the 1930s building.
It is the result of two years’ work by Bradford businessman Lee Craven to find a modern, viable use for the building, which has lain empty for a decade.
Mr Craven, a director of family textile firm Jessgrove, based in Great Horton, told the T&A he had first become interested in the future of the Odeon after taking on an earlier Bradford cinema restoration project – The Plaza at Cross Lane – which is now home to the Joshua Project.
He said: “When we managed to find the experts who could advise us, I asked whether a viable use could be found for the Odeon building. They came back and said we think it would work well as a live venue of that size.”
One sticking point could be the structural condition of the building, as Mr Craven’s team has not had access to it.
“We won’t know for sure until our engineers have been in, but nothing has come up so far that’s not insurmountable,” he said.
The businessman has put together a team including the country’s leading experts in auditorium renovation and restoration, and in the financing and management of live performance venues.
They hope to use a public-private financing model, similar to that used in the creation of the Leeds Arena and the refurbishment of the Barbican in York, to restore the Odeon.
Full details of the scheme are expected to be unveiled at the meeting, which takes place at the Midland Hotel at 10am on Wednesday.
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.
In order to make a decision, the authority has appointed consultants White Young Green to undertake a structural survey of the building, the results of which are expected back early in the new year.
Mark Nicholson, a member of Bradford Odeon Rescue Group, said: “We are excited by the announcement of this proposal by a Bradford businessman to return the building back to one of its former uses.
“As the authority and historical custodian of the Odeon building, we were approached by the team behind this proposal in its very early stages and we were able to provide them with full technical information regarding the building's construction and layout via the blueprints and photos in our archive.”
A spokesman for Bradford One, which wants to bring the disused building into community ownership and turn it into a music and cultural venue, said they welcome the plan as it suggests there is a viable future for the former Odeon as a live entertainment venue.
“We do not see this as a rival bid to the plans we are drawing up ourselves, but another option for what we all want to see – a restored Odeon building.
“Ultimately the public will decide which plan they feel will suit our city best. Whichever plan goes forward, Bradford One will be fully behind it.
“We wish the team behind Bradford Live all the best and have already had contact with them to offer our support for their plans.
“To now be in a position where there are multiple bids to regenerate the Odeon is an absolute dream come true.
“We couldn’t imagine such a turnaround just a few months ago during the fight to stop demolition.”
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