Bradford Council launched its hunt for a worthy developer of the Odeon cinema last night at an event which also celebrated the anniversary of the City Centre Growth Zone.

The Zone has committed over £3 million in business rate rebates to firms who have created jobs in the city centre.

“Many people have benefited since we launched the Zone 12 months ago,” Council leader Dave Green told some 300 business 300 gathered on the top floor of the National Media Museum.

“We have a real appetite for developing our city and we have showed our commitment to the centre by recently acquiring the Odeon building.”

While acknowledging that this has been a “thorny subject” in the past, Coun Green said they had been able to secure the building and were now launching the Expressions of Interest process to find the best potential developments.

He said the goal was to maintain as much of the building as possible and joked that anyone hoping to turn it into a car park would have to do so within the existing walls. “It’s an extremely exciting time for Bradford, with great opportunities,” he said.

Bradford Council’s Chief Executive Tony Reeves said officers had worked closely with over 100 businesses over the last year and that this would yield increasing economic growth.

Insisting it was not just another “strap-line like Bradford’s Bouncing Back,” Mr Reeves said Bradford should now be seen as a “Producer City – designing, creating, making and trading.”

He said that together with the University, the goal was to build and new skills and technology centre for the North of England. He said closing council offices in the districts meant that 1,000 staff had been relocated to the city centre and 1,000 education and social care staff were to follow within the next month.

“There will be 2,000 additional council staff in the city centre increasing footfall,” Mr Reeves said.

Expression of Interest forms for plans for the Odeon can be downloaded at from 5pm today, with a closing date for returns of 2pm on Thursday January 30.