Work was starting today to turn part of the mothballed Broadway shopping centre site into a temporary ‘urban garden’.
Developer Westfield is to install paths, green spaces and lighting and remove some hoardings on parts of the ten acre city centre site after striking an agreement with Bradford Council and regional development agency Yorkshire Forward.
Andrew Mason, chairman of Bradford Property Forum, said the Bradford Urban Garden, which will cost £300,000, will open up the city from Little Germany and make the centre look more attractive to people travelling down Leeds Road.
He said the scheme, which will also feature artworks from arts development agency Fabric, had been fully supported by developers Westfield which had helped finance it while it waits for the economy to recover sufficiently for it to start building the £320 million shopping centre.
He said: “People have been annoyed with Westfield and I think they have got that message and they came willingly to the table and they have been tremendously supportive. They have realised the delay is not ideal for the city and consequently they are putting money into it.”
Consultation with community, cultural and business groups about the interim use of the landscaped site is now taking place.
The Council’s Local Impact team aims to ensure the district’s economy can benefit through use of local labour, supplies and apprenticeships.
Mike Cowlam, the Council’s assistant director for economic development, said: “Westfield and the Council remain committed to the final scheme, however in the current climate it is unrealistic to expect development work to start in the near future. The interim use will open up pathways across the city and provide a variety of opportunities for local engagement and skills training.”
Nick Huntington, development director for Westfield Bradford, said: “The area is to be transformed into an urban green space. Westfield continues to work on the wider redevelopment of the site, but this project will ensure the area is transformed into an attractive, safe and dynamic space.”
Fabric has previously revealed it was working on a range of possible creative uses for the site..
Its director Gideon Seymour said: “It’s great that after six months of negotiations work is going to start and we are really looking forward to talking to local artists, communities and schools about how they can get involved.
“This is a real opportunity for everyone to start to re-engage part of their city centre and we hope that we get lots of project ideas.”