BRADFORD Council today confirmed it has agreed “in principle” to provide a £12 million loan to support the redevelopment of the former Odeon.

The authority’s Labour-led executive group went into private discussions this morning to discuss the legal and financial implications of the move, which had been recommended for approval by Council officers.

The deal will need to be discussed again by the group, but the move was described as a “big step forward” for the project.

A report put before the executive had stated that the £20m revamp of the former cinema, being led by Bradford Live, was “not financially viable” without local authority support.

Other funding options are being pursued, and last week, the Odeon bid was chosen by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board as its preferred project to receive a share of up to £4m from the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, planning, and transport, had said partners were working “round the clock” to secure funding for the project.

He described a revamped Odeon as an “absolute game changer” for Bradford, stating that the Council borrowing element would be paid back by rent and business rates.

Speaking last night, he said: “We have approved in principle providing a loan to Bradford Live to provide the biggest chunk of funding required to restore the Odeon as the North’s premiere 4,000-seat venue.

“There’s still some detail to be agreed at another executive meeting, but this is a big step forward for the project. It comes in the same week we’ve been selected by the Leeds City Region LEP as their selection for the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, which is great news.

“There’s still a long way to go, but we’ll continue to work with Bradford Live and the NEC Group to deliver this fantastic scheme by 2020 as planned.”

On the meeting, Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the Conservative Group on the Council, said it was “not appropriate” that Councillor John Pennington, his deputy leader and spokesman for regeneration, had been made to leave the room while the loan was discussed.

He said: “We want the re-development to happen, but we need to be sure it is a watertight financial deal.

“We are minded to call it in for proper scrutiny. It is vital for a deal as significant and important as this, and it needs a cross-party look so we are all comfortable with the decision.”

In September, plans were announced to re-open the Odeon as a live music venue, with NEC Group International signing a 30-year lease as the operator.