THOUSANDS of people poured in as the doors of Bradford's The Broadway shopping centre were officially opened this morning.

The big event saw celebrities, local community heroes, and officials taking part in a glitzy ceremony before members of the public rushed in at 10am.

Today's big event was welcomed across the district as X Factor star Alexandra Burke did the honours at the £260 million development's main entrance, opposite Little Germany, as community heroes opened other entrances at the same time.

Duncan Bower, director of development at Westfield, spoke of the "iconic moment" that people flooded into The Broadway centre after it opened its doors. "This is Bradford's day," added Mr Bower.

Shop windows had been dressed, floors hoovered and packaging tidied away as staff hurried to get the shopping centre looking its best for customers and dignitaries.

X Factor star Alexandra Burke officially opened The Broadway with a ribbon cutting at the main Petergate Mall entrance at 10am today, as other entrances were opened by representatives of Bradford City and the city's Burns Research Unit and the world's longest married couple Karam and Kartari Chand of Girlington.

More than 300 people were given exclusive access to the centre two hours before opening for a VIP viewing and performance by Miss Burke.

The investor behind the scheme, Meyer Bergman, said Bradford was ready for The Broadway.

Company principal George Walsh-Waring said: "Dynamic and fast-growing Bradford has been crying out for a better retail, leisure and dining offering in its city centre for years.

"The Broadway is our answer, providing the people of Bradford with the amenities that they have long deserved and by making a lasting contribution to the regeneration of the centre of their city."

City figures are firmly behind the project.

Bradford Council leader David Green said: "I think the opening of The Broadway has had a massive effect on the confidence and belief of people in Bradford.

"People are beginning to wake up and believe in Bradford again. That is the biggest benefit that The Broadway's opening brings."

Bradford business and shop owners are expecting a positive knock-on effect too.

The manager of Bradford's Kirkgate Centre, Catherine Riley, said: "We are looking forward to welcoming lots of new visitors to Bradford - people who have not have taken a look at the city for a while."

Val Summerscales, the secretary of the Bradford Chamber of Trade, added: "It's a welcome addition to the city centre's shopping offer. All of the other shops are looking forward to the centre opening."

Mike Cartwright, Bradford Chamber of Commerce's policy and representation executive, said the city's retail offer was suddenly more impressive than it was last week.

"That will attract, as well as shoppers, investors, developers and tourists.

"We have to make sure that we don't forget about the rest of the city centre, though, as city centre regeneration continues. Westfield are helping to put Bradford back on the map - we now need to make sure it stays there."

Political figures in the district are also positive about the impact the 12-acre site will have on the city's profile.

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah said the centre gave a further boost to the city.

"It's long awaited and very exciting," she added.

"The city is already on the map, the narrative of Bradford has already shifted. The Broadway is a significant contributor to that."

The MP for Bradford South Judith Cummins (Lab) said: "Its impact is huge, not just the investment and the jobs it brings but the symbolism and renewed sense of optimism.

"All the delays had a profoundly negative effect on Bradford but now that it's here we can, and must, put all that behind us."

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain (Lab) added: "I think there is a real buzz across the district about this, and it is a really exciting time for Bradford. This development has put confidence back into the district and generated much needed jobs."

And the positivity continued from politicians on Bradford Council.

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of Bradford's Conservative group, said: "It is the best news that the city has had for a long time."

Bradford's Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland added: "I'm glad to see that the centre is opening and I wish all of the shop owners every success."

The chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Councillor Peter Box said the opening would provide a huge boost to the city's economy.

"The Broadway shopping centre, alongside the City Centre Growth scheme, has been a catalyst to regeneration and growth in Bradford, with £500m investment on site this year," he said.

Colin Philpott, the chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough, hopes The Broadway will be the catalyst for further development in Bradford.

"What a great day it is. It has been a long time coming," he said.

Professor David Sharpe and Ajay Mahajan, plastic surgeon and director of Plastic Surgery and Burns Research in Bradford, who will be doing one of the centre's openings, said: "The opening of the Broadway centre has been much awaited and it feels great to be part of this important event in the history of Bradford."

John Coyne, chief executive of the British Council Shopping Centres (BCSC), added: "BCSC welcomes the opening of The Broadway as further evidence of the current strength of the retail sector and our industry's continued contribution to the wider UK economy, as we approach the busiest period in the retail calendar."

l Visit for full live coverage of the opening.