Schemes designed to maximise the impact of Westfield’s £260 million shopping centre on the city’s economy have been given the green light.

Bradford Council’s Executive yesterday agreed to relax planning rules on the streets around the Westfield site, meaning businesses will not have to apply for change of use to open shops, restaurants, bars or offices.

But firms will not be able to open takeaways, betting shops, pawnbrokers or payday lenders without permission.

Council leader, Councillor David Green (Lab), asked for amusement arcades to be added to this list as well.

Across the wider city centre, rules will also be relaxed to make it easier to turn the upper floors of shops into flats.

The two ideas will now go out to a public consultation.

Councillor Val Slater (Lab), executive member for planning, said: “I think we are looking upon them as a pilot. Following the consultation, and if and when we decide to go forward on them, we will evaluate them, looking at whether they will be suitable in other areas of the wider district, such as Keighley and Shipley town centres.”

The Executive also agreed plans to set up a retail academy, as part of the highly-regarded Get Bradford Working programme.

The academy will mainly be aimed at training people so they are more likely to land jobs at Westfield’s Broadway Shopping Centre once it opens.

Coun Green said: “The Westfield jobs are clearly key but it is going to be available to all retailers in the city centre and outside it, because we are expecting to see the growth of retail, not just in Westfield but across the city centre and elsewhere.”

The meeting also heard about two new temporary rate relief schemes paid for by the Government.

One means that shops with a rateable value of up to £50,000 are exempt from business rates, up to a value of £1,000.

The other means that a business moving into a shop which had been empty for at least a year only has to pay half their rates for the first 18 months.

Coun Green said he welcomed the Government scheme, as it fitted in with the other measures designed to boost city-centre shopping.

He said: “The steps that the Council has taken have started to increase interest and confidence in Bradford. We are starting to see this come to fruition, and this can only help us develop that.”