A NATIONAL newspaper’s representation of Bradford aspiring to be a “Shoreditch of Yorkshire” is a little off target, according to those in the city who are pushing forward in its regeneration.

And the negative perspective of the city cited in The Guardian newspaper by Sir Simon Jenkins today, has prompted the man behind the latest development - Conditioning House - to announce he has more plans to invest in the city and flag up its positive points.

Nathan Priestley, chief executive of Leeds-based Priestley Group, is to start his £8.5 million redevelopment of the former wool testing centre and turning it into more than 100 apartments with gym and cafe.

Bradford born and calling himself a “true advocate of the city” Mr Priestley said: “We develop nationwide, dealing with all councils, including Leeds and Manchester. We can say that, without question, Bradford Council and its planning department in particular are the most forward thinking and commercially minded council we deal with.

“Where other councils put up hurdles for development, Bradford finds ways to encourage it and work with the private sector to overcome obstacles.

“Yes, more still needs to be done, but there is a reason we (Priestley Group) have invested more than £30m into private development in this city centre over the past seven years, still have offices in the city centre and have no plans to slow down our investment within the city.

“With some of the richest architecture and history our country has to offer, the appeal and charm of Bradford brings people together who want to make a difference. By working collaboratively, something special can be achieved.

“Bradford needs to create a ‘round table’ of the most influential businesses in the city to pioneer its revival, consulting with the public to gauge what they want. The council cannot do this on its own; it requires the knowledge and expertise of private companies like Priestley Group to make this sort of outreach work.

“There is huge potential in Bradford. It is still a major city, a sleeping giant.

“As much as the city is progressing, to be a major player, the city needs to embrace the opinion of the private sector. Only the private sector can kick start trade, investment and city living in what is, one of the most historical and significant cities in the country.

“Without doubt, Bradford is on the rise.”

Chair of Bradford Civic Society Si Cunningham added: “Say what you like about Bradford, but it’s never boring, and that’s why it will always appeal to writers like Simon Jenkins.

“Reading his article, I think it’s pretty obvious that he has a massive soft spot for our city, although some of his observations are, frankly, a little out of date.

“He’s right that we need to make better planning decisions and do more with our empty buildings, but his assertion that we want to be a ‘Shoreditch of Yorkshire’ is wide of the mark.

“Bradford is Bradford, and there are legions of passionate people doing great work to make this city better who will tell you the same.

“Maybe one day, if it’s lucky, Shoreditch can be the Bradford of the south!”

Mr Cunningham also pointed out that Sir Simon was on the debating panel which discussed the demolishing of High Point. He argued it should be demolished.

Ian Ward, general manager of the Broadway said he would have liked to have read about the positive side of Bradford.

“The city is on a journey. The Broadway is in its third year and this time next week will have a new cinema experience opened.

“There is much more going on too, with Bradford Improvement District coming along, The St George’s Hall being refurbished and the redevelopment of the former Odeon being a game changer. It is moving Bradford forwards and the Broadway is a piece of that jigsaw.”

Lee Craven, the lead behind Bradford Live which has helped secure the Odeon’s future said: “The key thing that Bradford lacks is confidence. It has the buildings, the people, the history, the critical mass. It has teaching institutions of national, even international, quality. And in recent years Bradford has started to believe in itself again. “The Council made a bold statement of intent by building City Park and this was followed by the £260m Broadway investment by Westfield. The Odeon redevelopment is the next step: it will become one of the finest live event venues in the UK, and will be run by the NEC Group, one of the UK’s leading live venue operators.

“They have committed to the City for 30 years, and their investment is a tremendous vote of confidence in Bradford’s future.”