A DEVELOPER has been urged to “get its act together” and finally start work on one of Bradford city centre’s biggest regeneration projects.

The former Royal Mail site, between the Forster Square Retail Park and The Broadway shopping centre, is the location of a proposed leisure complex that is due to create 200 jobs and improve links between the city centre and the retail park.

The plans for Forster Square Leisure, which include a cinema, gym and eight restaurants, were first revealed by landowners British Land in 2015.

They were approved by Bradford Council in April 2016 at a planning meeting where a representative of the London-based company said they wanted to “keep the momentum, investment and positivity in Bradford going forward”.

When James Honeyman, senior asset manager for the company, was asked when work would start, he told councillors: “We would like to get on site as quickly as we can. We have no reason to hold back.”

But 21 months later construction has yet to start on the site, and there has been no announcement on possible tenants.

The Telegraph & Argus has been in regular contact with British Land for details on the scheme’s progress, only to be told they can not provide any updates.

Now Bradford Civic Society has criticised the lack of progress on the multi-million-pound scheme.

Since the plans were approved a new cinema due to open this spring has been built as part of The Broadway, and numerous gyms have opened in and around the city centre.

The only movement on the Forster Square Leisure site has been the demolition of the Royal Mail buildings.

There has been speculation that the delays are down to a major re-think of what the site should offer in light of the other city centre developments.

A separate application, to overhaul the public realm around the neighbouring Forster Square Retail Park, also owned by British Land, was approved in February 2015. It included improved pedestrian links to the rest of the city, a children’s play area and a new customer service building.

But work on that scheme is also yet to start. One of the conditions of the planning approval was that work had to begin within three years or permission would lapse. The deadline is now only a few weeks away.

Si Cunningham, chair of the Bradford Civic Society, said: “I think the lack of action is symbolic of a wider problem of big developers only caring about their own interests. British Land should get their act together and let the people of Bradford know what their actual plans are for this key city centre site.

“It’s pretty obvious to everyone that the cinema element of Forster Square is dead, so it would be good to see a proposal for the site that has a better relationship with the city centre, and isn’t just another ghastly shed in a car park.

“Bradford deserves better, and Forster Square in particular commands a high quality building to complement its historic neighbours.

“Everyone’s doing their bit for Bradford – people are coming back into the city, the council is investing in key projects, local businesses are pulling together – yet our ambitions risk being stifled if big landlords like British Land don’t get a grip and take more responsibility.

“We need more transparency and collaboration if we’re going to properly regenerate Bradford.”

Val Summerscales, chair of Bradford Chamber of Trade, said: “If they are going to start a development they are going to want to make sure it is financially viable.


With the new cinema being built at Broadway and the new gyms in town they probably won’t want to open another. I don’t blame them for taking their time to produce something more sustainable. It is a valuable piece of land and a great gateway for the city centre, so I’d rather they take their time and build something that will last rather than rush something just because they have permission.”

A spokesman for British Land said they could not provide any updates on the development.

Bradford Council did not wish to comment.