A FUNDING committee has accepted that two major refurbishment schemes in Bradford will come in way behind schedule.

Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Investment Committee heard that multi million pound plans to refurbish both Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square would be delayed.

The authority is providing the bulk of funding to both schemes, and the committee today approved new timeframes for them.

A £5.6 million refurbishment of Bradford Interchange is not likely to now be complete until October 2021, not September 2020 as originally planned.

And a £17.3 million project to completely upgrade Bradford Forster Square Station will not be completed until December 2021 - nine months after original March 2021 completion date.

The interchange works will include the pedestrianisation of the station frontage and creation of improved public realm, improved station concourses, the creation of a new taxi turn-around, the creation of a new drop off area and accessibility improvements.

The Forster Square project will include a new station building, improved security, turning unused rail arches into shops, and providing “better connectivity” with the rest of the city centre.

Both schemes aim to encourage more people to ditch their cars and use trains more.

Members of the committee heard that the Authority had also applied for "Transforming Cities" funding that, if successful, would expand the project even further, creating better pedestrian and cycling links with the station.

Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport on Bradford Council and member of the committee, said: "These stations are major gateways as they offer the first impression for a lot of people visiting Bradford.

"They have both needed a re-vamp for a long time.

"With the interchange we hope this is the first step of major changes that include a station on the Northern Powerhouse line. With Forster Square the project is more of a total re-build.

"When you ask people in Bradford what they want to see around the stations, they say more public realm. We recently announced a new public square as part of out market plan, and there is an element of place making in this plan too."

A report to the committee had said “insufficient expertise” within Bradford Council is behind the start of the Forster Square regeneration being pushed back - as the authority had to look externally to find someone to write an invitation to tender the project.

Seemingly referring to this point, Cllr Ross-Shaw said: "It is common in major infrastructure projects for Council's to bring in outside expertise."

Melanie Corcoran, Director of Delivery at the Combined Authority, replied: "When Councils bring major infrastructure schemes forward we're not expecting those authorities to have all their expertise in house. They will often be encouraged to bring in outside knowledge when these are big schemes that may take a number of years. You need specialist advice on things like contractual issues with rail operators. We do accept the need to get that advice."

Councillor Kim Groves (Lab, Middleton Park, Leeds) said: "From a transport point of view schemes like this are so crucial to improving customer experience. I'm really supportive of both schemes."