The site of Bradford’s mothballed shopping development is set to be opened up as a “community garden” until Westfield is ready to re-start its £320 million retail scheme.
Bradford Council has completed a site survey and is exploring a raft of temporary uses for the dormant Broadway site.
The plans would see hoardings surrounding the site moved back to the edge of the basement area that has been dug out, allowing half of the site to be levelled out and used by the public.
The Council said there was potential to create grassed areas, seating, footpaths between the city centre and Little Germany, a wild flower meadow, urban allotments and an area for outdoor theatre performances, illuminated at night by a solar-powered lighting system.
Regeneration chiefs are working with bosses of arts development organisation Fabric, which wants to see sculptures around the site, artwork on the hoardings and large art installations in the basement area that could be viewed through perspex windows in the hoardings.
Mike Cowlam, the Council’s assistant director for regeneration, said: “Clearly it’s a construction site and that has some fairly clear challenges in terms of health and safety. Whatever we do, we need to make sure the ground is safe for everyone.
“In the current economic climate, the site is going to continue to remain empty until things pick up. On that basis, we want to find a ‘meanwhile’ use for the site.
“The plan is to reduce the amount of hoarding down to a much smaller area running around that basement part of the site. About half the site will be opened up to this community garden.”
He said the Council had some Government money to help ease the effects of the recession and was in discussions with Westfield about co-funding the interim measures. The Council is also in talks with arts foundations and a number of other partners.
Gideon Seymour, director of Fabric, said: “Our reason for getting involved was to allow people to engage with that space and that means opening parts of it up.
“Once people can access it we want to create reasons for them to linger and enjoy it, whether it’s things to look at or things to do.”
A Westfield spokesman said: “We are continuing to monitor the demand for new retail space and economic conditions in all markets in which we operate with a view to determining if and when we can re-start our development pipeline.
“As an interim measure we are exploring short terms uses for the Broadway site that are cost-effective and will not have a detrimental effect on the feasibility of the development.”
Councillor Adrian Naylor, the Council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “Any solution that comes out of what we are doing must involve the community in terms of how they have the ability to contribute to the final answer.”