Fast-track plans bid welcome

Bradford Council’s latest proposal to radically relax planning restrictions in areas of the city centre is a welcome move to try to end the blight of empty shops that exists in some parts of the town centre.

By allowing businesses to set-up shops without going through the full planning process – and opening up a similar system for people who want to convert empty floors above retail units into flats – will hopefully encourage traders to take up these shops.

Such an initiative is something this newspaper has been calling for over a long period and we are delighted the Council has finally come up with something. The heart of the city desperately needs reinvigorating and this may, in tandem with Westfield starting, get the ball rolling on that.

The scheme is particularly focussing on streets such as Broadway, close to the Westfield construction site, and which currently has more empty shops than occupied ones.

Obviously the relaxing of planning regulations cannot lead to a complete free-for-all, and there will quite rightly be exceptions such as bookies and fast food outlets which won’t be allowed to make use of the new development orders, and the Council will have to be notified of any proposal.

But by allowing change of use to restaurant, shop, office or bar use for buildings in the designated streets without formal planning permission, this scheme will hopefully encourage entrepreneurs to take a chance on setting up in the city.

And with Westfield now well and truly on the way, this could present an ideal opportunity for budding businessmen to get in early.

They still have to be convinced they can make a living from any business they open, but opening up the planning process might just help persuade them that they can make their dream happen in Bradford

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