WHILE the building of Westfield dominates Bradford's skyline and is a visible sign of regeneration, away from the diggers and bright advertising hoardings there is another change under way.

Almost by accident, there is a revival of the North Parade and Independent Quarter area of the city with new venues emerging.

The small, but ever increasing group of people investing the area all have the passion and desire to offer something different and plug a gap in the market.

The Record Cafe - a charcuterie deli, real ale and craft beer cafe and vinyl record shop - is set to open tomorrow, on North Parade, while around the corner contractors have just started transforming the historic Shaw’s Moisture Metres factory, off Westgate, into Bradford Brewery and Brewfactory.

Meanwhile a planning application is being considered to turn North Parade's Table Decor into The Beerhouse and a plan for an independent cinema has just been lodged with Bradford Council.

Last month Forks Cafe opened on North Parade and there are plans to extend the hours and offer comedy nights.

The hope is that North Parade will be seen as the place to go for a good night out while offering a new quality 'scene' without being pretentious or "too cool for school."

A new wave of venues would add to existing bars such as The Sparrow, The City Gent and Al's Dime Bar.

Licensed trade consultant Mark Hamilton-Smith is involved with several of the projects.

"The current trend and movement is into real ale and craft beers and The Sparrow was the first to do that in Bradford three-and-half years ago and I've always known about it and been in a few times," he said.

Mr Hamilton-Smith was brought up in Bradford and is keen to see a resurgence of a thriving nightlife when places such as Duke's, Mcflys, Cloud Nine and Silks nightclub drew people into the city.


David Robertson-Brown of the Growth Zone, Licensed trade consultant Mark Hamilton-Smith and David Craig of David Craig Design Consultancy outside Table Decor, which could be turned into The Beerhouse

He said a snowball effect of new ventures could pull people back from Leeds or Harrogate for an evening out.

"Knowing there's all these people on the doorstep, there's absolutely an opportunity if we can provide the right product," he said.

The Beerhouse would offer craft beers, Yorkshire cask ales and home-cooked food. Plans also include outdoor seating, to create a "European cafe feel."

Business partners, Jas Bhatt and Kathy O’Brien, who own The Boathouse Inn in Saltaire, also hope to reveal some hidden architectural features of the former Liverpool & Victoria Insurance building and create 30 jobs.

Mr Bhatt said: "We are really excited at the prospect of giving our support to the regeneration of Bradford city centre and adding another type of venue to this increasingly popular and vibrant area of the city. We believe the future of Bradford is certainly looking bright, and we hope it will reach the highs last seen in the 1980s."

The newest plan for the area is for an independent 40-seater micro-cinema.

The Working Title Cinema proposal would screen a range of classic, modern and independent movies, contributing to the ethos of Bradford as a UNESCO city of film.

A planning application has been submitted to convert the former electricity showroom at the junction of North Parade, Manor Row, Hamm Strasse and Fountain Street.

Roy Davison, who is behind the plans, said: "There is a vibrant new leisure area developing in and around North Parade which is being led by the emergence of new high-end bars and eateries.

"We’ve tried to come up with a scheme which we feel could provide an additional cultural offering to broaden the number and mix of people coming into Bradford and especially the Independent Quarter."

His desire to see the area succeed is echoed by the man behind The Record Cafe, which opens next week.

Keith Wildman said there was a "domino effect" happening in the area as new ventures inspired others to invest.

"Everyone in that street is pushing in the same way really. They're pushing for quality, they're providing what people want which has been lacking in the last ten to 15 years. People have drifted away to Leeds and it's about getting people back, and they will come back," he said.


Keith Wildman during conversion of The Record Café, which is due to open tomorrow

He compared the area to the Northern Quarter in Manchester.

"That started off as a few people taking a chance, just having an idea, If you go round there now, it's packed and it's great," he said.

Meanwhile, contractors Kerf Interiors have started on the £400,000 Bradford Brewery refurbishment, which is due to open in January.

The new development is also leading to indirect benefits for other businesses in the district as Bradford sub-contractors are working on the brewery and architecture, furniture and interior design company David Craig Design Consultancy, based in Saltaire, has been involved in a number of the schemes.

"North Parade has a real buzz about it at the moment. The Growth Zone funding has acted as a catalyst, encouraging a number of established and fledgling independent traders to invest in Bradford," Mr Craig said.

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