AN AMBITIOUS vision has been unveiled to boost Bradford’s economy by £4 billion over the next 12 years and get 20,000 more people into work.

And the chairman of the board behind the plan, David Baldwin, has insisted that it is not just about talking and pushing figures around.

The former director of operations at Bradford City Football Club now heads up the Bradford Economic Partnership - the body that started out four years ago as Bradford’s Producer City initiative.

He was speaking ahead of a launch last night of its new plan to boost the district’s economy by 40 per cent by 2030. As well as raising the value of Bradford’s economy from £10bn to £14bn, the vision includes getting 48,000 more people qualified to NVQ level three.

“This is about migration. I don’t see it as a rebrand,” said Mr Baldwin.

“We have already seen progress since Producer City started. The Broadway and City Park is a great example. We want to build on that.”

The new growth strategy includes plans to earmark the 6.8-hectare site of the Richard Dunn sports centre in Odsal for “one of the most significant retail developments in West Yorkshire”, according to new papers.

The sports centre is set to close in the coming years, as part of a shake-up of sports provision across the district.

The strategy also promises a breakthrough for the long-awaited development of the former Tyrls police station site into Grade A office space. This plan was first unveiled in 2014 but while the old building was flattened, no developer or occupier had come forward.

Now, the plan reveals, a developer is to be revealed later this spring.

Mr Baldwin said Bradford’s young population would play a key part in growing the district’s economy.

He said: “This is a young city and we want to capitalise on that fact.

“Businesses say they have the capacity for expansion but do not have the work force. We aim to continue working with the university, colleges, schools to create that workforce.”

Mr Baldwin, who was director of operations at Bradford City from 2007 to 2014 and is now chief executive at Burnley FC, said as a “proud Bradfordian” he wanted to give something back to the place he called home.

“I was brought up in Fagley and now live in Cullingworth.

“I run a multi-million pound business but my son is training to be an electrical engineer.

“These sort of skills will help us build a skilled workforce.

“We have the businesses here. We have Christeyns, BASF and even Morrisons. Morrisons has a lot to do with manufacturing as well as running its stores,” he said.

Earlier in the day at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive, Council chiefs had said the plan would see businesses offering each other peer-to-peer support, with volunteer ‘patrons’ helping other businesses to grow. The district’s old industrial mills would be put to new uses and land would also be formally earmarked for new industrial developments as soon as possible.

Mr Baldwin had warned the politicians he was “not always politically correct” but was very passionate about helping the district to develop. He told them: “I make no apologies for changing the name from Producer City to the Bradford Economic Partnership. The narrative should be in the title, not in the explanation. It does what it says on the tin.”

He said he wanted the district to stop making apologies for itself and foster “a determination to succeed”.

Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said it was “a big day for Bradford”.

She said: “We need to lead this district into a new era of prosperity and growth.”

The plan aims to “reposition Bradford in the global economy” stating the entrepreneurial spirit which propelled the city’s products and innovations around the world “still thrives”.

The Bradford Economic Partnership wants Bradford to be the fastest growing economy over the coming decade and wants the city to become the most productive of any city in the Northern Powerhouse. The city will have a population of 565,000 by 2030. It already has more than a quarter under the age of 18.

At the meeting tonight the keynote speaker was Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council.

He said it was important that neighbouring cities collaborate, rather than be competitors, and classified Mancchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool as all being neighbours in the north.

"A successful Bradford is good for the north of England which, in turn, is good for Manchester," he said.

He added that one of the major factors for successful growth was Northern Powerhouse Rail and a through station for Bradford.

"Cutting down journey times to other cities will increase the connectivity.

"It is something that everyone has to keep pushing for and highlighting its importance. If we fail to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail we will be letting ourselves down. We have to find that one voice."

Panelists for the evening were Caroline Pullich, head of SMEs for Yorkshire with Barclays Bank; Kamran Rashid, social entrepreneur of Socially Conscious Company; Amir Hussain, director of YEME Architects; Roger Marsh, chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise parternship (LEP) and Lisa Leighton, head of HR with Morrisons.

The debate was chaired by Bernard Ginns, a former daily newspaper business editor.

The event was attended by Bradford Council cheif executive Kersten England and council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, along with fellow councillors, people connected to local businesses and the chamber of commerce.

Mrs England said young people were important for future growth as was the city's culture.

She said she was a migrant to the city, from Scotland, but regarded herself a proud Bradfordian.

She said the city was rich in culture with the future of the former Odeon another venture to look forward to and which will draw people to the city and create jobs.

She also spoke of the need to nurture the young people to help build a positive future for Bradford and use digital and transport connectivity to link to cities around the world.

"We come at this from an asset-based approach. Let's be who we are. Let the world know what we are and let their kids come to study here and people visit us.

"Young people are brimful of talent and energy. They can tell people this is where we come from. They are our asset base to work with."

A presentation of the economic strategy is to be presented to London businesses and members of commerce later this month at the Old Shakespeaere Company.

A manufacturing network event is also to be held in Bradford later in the year.