WITH only a day to go until The Broadway's grand opening, the Telegraph & Argus has been given a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the new £260 million shopping centre.

Staff have been working around the clock to get the shopping centre ready for its big opening tomorrow.

Yesterday, the shopping centre was still a hive of activity, with signs being put up, mannequins being dressed, kiosks being constructed and shelves being stocked.

Dance music pumping through the shopping centre's speaker system provided the soundtrack. One of the tracks, Insomnia by Faithless, seemed particularly apt, with its refrain of 'I can't get no sleep' mirroring the bustling energy of the shopfitters and retail staff.

Duncan Bower, director of development at Westfield, said: "It's the most exciting part of the process. There's a lot of 'will things happen, won't they?'"

He said the team was now working day and night to get the centre and its shops looking as good as possible for the big day tomorrow.

"It's around the clock," he said.

"There will be people working behind shop fronts and hoardings, there will be merchandise coming in in the evenings.

"All of these activities come to a peak level at this time."

VIDEO: A time-lapse video of The Broadway development

As might be expected, there have been more than one or two problems to deal with - during the tour, one workman mentions a soil pipe leaking into a shop's stock room.

Mr Bower, director of development, said the team was dealing with last-minute snags "every minute of the day".

He said: "But we are fine. There is a hugely dedicated team bearing down on all of the issues and all of those issues are being resolved."

The shopping centre, which includes more than 70 shops, is now 90 per cent let but not all shops will open tomorrow.

Mr Bower said: "There have been some retailers who are leased but not trading, because they signed up a little bit too late, but they almost certainly will be trading before Christmas."

He said there were "six or seven" units which hadn't yet been taken, but they were in discussions with retailers about all of them.

Car manufacturer Mini has taken on one of the empty units to open a 'pop-up shop' while a permanent tenant is secured.

"That is actually quite a big shop unit," Mr Bower said.

"We had let it, but for various reasons, that let didn't go ahead."

Many of the centre's fixtures and fittings are all done. Advertising boards along the main malls are lit and working, while the customer toilet area and car park also looked pretty much complete.

The chairs and tables were all in place in the centre's food court.


And Mr Bower said one of the main jobs now was what they called the "sparkle clean" - a deep clean in the 24 hours leading up to the grand opening.

Plans for the centre were scaled down during the recession, but Mr Bower said the redesign had given a double-height mall, creating the sense of "light and space".

And while many of the tenants are national retailers, there are a number of references to the surrounding city. There are three plaques marking the route of the city's hidden beck, as part of a series of 15 plaques across the city masterminded by the Friends of Bradford's Becks.

And at The Broadway's Church Bank entrance, the well-known statue of William Forster has been returned to the city.

Bradford Council planners had been instrumental in helping shape a design that complemented the surrounding city, from a sandstone-coloured exterior to fit in with the stone warehouses of Little Germany to the placing of entrances to provide the best views along the city streets, Mr Bower said.

He said both developer Westfield and site owner Meyer Bergman were grateful for the support they had been given by Bradford Council, local people and organisations like the Chamber of Commerce.

He said: "From a Westfield and Meyer Bergman perspective, there are two words that come to mind.

"One is privilege - it is great to be here. Another is pride. I don't think that is pride in ourselves, it is pride in having got through some difficult times.

"We are very proud that we are opening the centre on Thursday. We very much hope that the people of Bradford are proud of that too."