The speed at which Westfield’s Broadway development is taking shape is helping to bring a “feel-good factor” to Bradford, according to business owners and the city’s Chamber of Commerce.
The site of the under-construction shopping centre has gone from a quiet, unused hole in the ground to a buzzing construction site with progress on the £260 million building now clearly visible from day to day.
Westfield acquired the site in 2004 and planned to have the shopping centre opened by 2007, but the recession led to it being shelved, leaving many questioning its future.
Construction finally got under way early this year and Mike Cartwright, policy executive at Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said he was “very impressed” with the speed at which the project was progressing.
“You can now really see things changing on the ground, which is what we have wanted for such a long time,” he said.
“It’s improving perceptions of Bradford, and increasing the feel-good factor and confidence of local businesses. The sooner it’s completed, the better.”
The steel framework of the modern development is markedly different to the Victorian architecture of Little Germany and certain adjoining buildings in the city centre, such as Nat West on Market Street, but Mr Cartwright is hopeful of a successful blend between the old and the new.
“It will be two contrasting styles, but we’ve had that yawning gap for so long between Little Germany and the city centre,” he said. “Having that space filled, even though the styles of the buildings will be very different, will knit the two areas together, which is what we want.
“Residents and businesses in Little Germany have felt distanced from the city, but the advent of Broadway will help bring them closer.”
A spokesman for the Midland Hotel on Forster Square, which directly overlooks the Broadway site, said people had been visiting the hotel purely to see how construction was going.
“Just the development itself, even before the shops are there, is proving to be an attraction,” the spokesman said.
“People are coming from all over Yorkshire and beyond just to see Westfield being built, so it’s very exciting for us.
“It’s been a long time coming, but it is something that Bradford deserves, and something it really needs. A lot of guests have been saying they will come back once it’s done, so it’s all very positive news.”