A ROW has broken out over whether or not new commercial ventures can be successful in an historic area of Bradford city centre.

A property developer claims Westfield's Broadway shopping scheme means it is "unlikely" that neighbouring Little Germany will see any significant commercial development any time soon - a statement strongly rejected by Little Germany Action Group.

A company called Flat Invest has applied to convert an empty ground floor unit at Grade II listed Albion House on Vicar Lane into flats, claiming that after almost a decade of being marketed as a restaurant and bar, there has been little interest in the site.

The application claims this is unlikely to change when the Broadway shopping centre opens later this year, as businesses will instead choose to move to the newly-built units there.

But David West, from the Little Germany Action Group, believes Westfield will have a more positive impact on the area. He said: "If Little Germany is ever to reach its potential, it must achieve a genuine mix of mutually supportive uses. It is essential that if Little Germany is to thrive – bars, cafes and restaurants must be part of that mix.

"Now there are positive signs of renewed interest in ground floor active uses, encouraging signs that empty ground floor units are attractive once again in Little Germany.


"Westfield will open later this year and this will have a further positive impact, bringing more interest to the area and raising property values and financial returns. Interest already expressed in premises on Well Street for a hotel suggests the ‘Westfield effect’ is already positively at work in Little Germany.

"With imagination, and approaches to the growing independent sector in Bradford, perhaps the ground floor of Albion House could well be the next location for more complimentary active use in Little Germany."

Albion House, built in the 1870s for offices and warehousing, was converted into apartments in 2006, when the two lower floors were marketed as a restaurant and bar. The application says there has been no interest in attracting businesses since then, and the floors have now been earmarked for a conversion to 10 apartments.


The planning application says: "It has proved impossible to let these floors for this purpose or indeed any other commercial use. This problem is not unique to this building, and it has proved a problem throughout Little Germany where commercial use has struggled to gain momentum at street level despite the significant development of residential units within the area.

"A commercial hub has developed on Peckover Street but apart from YoYo’s Café on Chapel Street and a recent café bar that has opened on Church Bank, there have been no commercial uses established outside the Peckover Street core. Given the development of the Westfield Shopping Centre, it would appear more unlikely that significant commercial development will take place in buildings close to this site at street level."

The planning application will be decided in early May.