AMBITIOUS plans to transform a "lost part of Bradford" are a step closer to reality now 820 tonnes of rubble have been cleared and the site is ready for contractors to move in.

The centuries-old network of underground tunnels is billed to become the city's Victorian quarter and will be a mix of trading barrows, restaurants and bars.

Yesterday the man behind the Sunbridge Wells project, Graham Hall, a Yeadon-based developer, showed the Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Mike Gibbons how work was progressing.

The historic tunnels, which have been vacant for many years, have previously been home to cells, a bottling plant and a nightclub.

Cllr Gibbons said he was delighted to see the project starting to take shape.

"The vast majority of people in Bradford probably don't know this exists and I think this will be quite a revelation to them," he said.

He said he was "very impressed" with what he had seen.

"And more so with the plans to regenerate a lost part of Bradford," he added.

Cllr Gibbons said part of the tunnels reminded him of Liverpool's Cavern Club, where the Beatles - who played in the building above the tunnels - found fame.

The main entrance to Sunbridge Wells is a tunnel behind City Park and plans include an internal street with a large glass area above courtyard with a staircase leading to Upper Miller Gate.

The tunnel entrance will be used as an art gallery space and in-house artist Trafford Parsons said he was excited to be part of the project.

"There will be different styles of art, but always contemporary things from today.

"I think we will use the space in so many different ways. There will be projection and 3D pieces and painting."

Features, including cell bars, will be kept as the walls are sandblasted to revitalise the whole area.

Mr Parsons said Mr Hall had always been able to see beyond the rubble and mess and imagine the impressive development.

"When Graham showed me, he just had so much vision. I couldn't quite see it, but when I started to, it was great," he added.

Part of the development belonged to Dayal Sharma MBE who said Mr Hall shared his plans with him about four years ago.

"I thought he was kidding at first, but said I'd help him."

Marketing will start soon to fill the project, which has expanded to include 14 shops, two bars and a restaurant - meaning a later completion date of February or March, rather than December as originally hoped.

The aim is to get young entrepreneurs excited about investing in the city, but with flexible trading terms.

"It's going to be a great place for young people to work and enjoy themselves," Mr Hall said.

Mr Parsons added: "We've had so much interest from people walking by already. As soon as the door is open even a crack, people are so inquisitive.

"Even just the painting on the outside of the building get attention."