BRADFORD'S long awaited Broadway shopping centre will finally open its doors in November, ahead of the Christmas rush.

Today, developer Westfield announces the £260 million development will be welcoming shoppers from Thursday, November 5.

The 570,000 sq ft centre, expected to employ around 2,500 people, will be the largest retail centre in the country to open in 2015 and will propel Bradford up the national retail rankings by 59 places to number 26.

Last week nine new stores were announced for the development, which is now over 70 per cent full, and the company said many of the other units were in varying stages of negotiation.

And yesterday a new retail academy, expected to prepare more than 1,000 people this year to work in the centre, was officially launched.

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The Skillshouse will equip people with the expertise needed to work at Westfield and other retail and hospitality businesses in the area.

The academy is based in Kershaw House, opposite the shopping centre, and has enough funding for three years.

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Director of Development at Westfield Duncan Bower said: "After years of hard work and crucial support from many sectors of the Bradford community, I am very pleased to announce an opening date for the Broadway of Thursday, November 5."

Bradford Council Leader Councillor David Green said: "It's great news to get the official opening date for The Broadway Bradford which has been eagerly anticipated by people across the region

"We have been really pleased to see the progress of this development and it is right on schedule. The timing is perfect for all those wanting to come to Bradford to do their Christmas shopping.

"We will have so much to offer throughout the city centre with a great mix of major department stores, smaller and more unique shops, and thriving pubs, cafes and curry houses, all adding up to a great reason to come here."

Yesterday's launch event for the Skillshouse, held at Forster's Bistro in City Park, involved around 100 representatives from local companies, education providers, Bradford Council staff and business leaders.

Terry Davies, Interim assistant director for client services, said the £1.4 million academy had already been flooded with applications and CVs.

Councillor Susan Hinchliffe, the Council's executive member for Education, skills and culture, said: "The turnout today shows a willingness for people in the city to make this work for the people of Bradford. It will offer potential employees options beyond Westfield. This will be a real game changer."